British guitar legend Jeff Beck passed away on January 10. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, who rose to prominence with The Yardbirds, died “suddenly” after contracting bacterial meningitis, his representative said. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French recently spoke about what makes a guitarist truly unique. It was added that Jeff Beck evolved constantly throughout his career while Eric Clapton “stayed the same” and Jimmy Page “got worse as time went on.”
Beck was universally acknowledged as one of the most talented and significant guitarists in the world, and has played alongside some of the greatest artists of rock, blues and jazz.
Jeff Beck never lacked acclaim in his life (he’s been frequently quoted as one of the most innovative rock guitarists alongside Jimi Hendrix), the world seems to have grown more aware of his contributions in the wake of his death.
Given the occasion, some might even call Jeff Beck the greatest guitarist of all time – a claim that Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French tried to add nuance to during a recent interview with “The Metal Voice”.
Jay Jay added that Jeff Beck is a worthy contender because he kept evolving throughout his decades-long career while, as the Twisted Sister Guitarist claims, some of Beck’s famous colleagues didn’t.
He said (transcription via Ultimate Guitar):
“Having witnessed all that stuff and realizing that then Beck goes on and develops this incredible style of guitar playing over the next 50 years… Jimi’s is dead and [Beck] developed, Jimmy didn’t have the luxury of developing. Eric [Clapton] didn’t change much, Eric stayed the same. Jimmy Page got worse as time went on, sloppier, eventually straightened himself out and I guess he’s okay today.
“And by the way, I’m not knocking these people. These were my heroes. You think of the greatest guitar players though, the ones who, when you hear them, you know who they are. Not just that they’re technically great, but you know who they are. So you can add to this list if you want, but [these are] the guitar players that I know, when I hear [them], I’ll tell you who it is.
“BB King. No one plays like BB King. Leslie West. No one sounds like Leslie West. Carlos Santana. Nobody sounds like Carlos Santana. Jimi Hendrix. Nobody sounds like Jimi Hendrix. Jeff Beck. Nobody sounds like Jeff Beck.
“When you get to Eric Clapton, there’s a million guys that play like that. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa – like a million of them. And that doesn’t take away [from] how great they are. It’s just that they don’t necessarily imbue their personality through the fretboard [in an] individual way. But you know, that’s just my opinion. So you may have a feeling of other guitar players… Eddie Van Halen, I can always tell Eddie.”
Twisted Sister will play a one-off reunion show during their Heavy Metal Hall of Fame induction ceremony this January 26 at The Canyon club in Agoura Hills, California. As previously reported, Mike Portnoy, formerly of Dream Theater, will be standing in for the band’s late drummer AJ Pero during the performance.