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Jeff Beck, Guitarist With a Chapter in Rock History, Dies at 78

Daringly, Mr. Beck devoted most of the “Blow by Blow” solo album, recorded in 1974 and released in 1975, to instrumentals, inspired by the creativity of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the soaring work of the band’s fusion guitarist, John McLaughlin.

To help capture that group’s feel, Mr. Beck hired the producer George Martin, who had overseen Mahavishnu’s album “Apocalypse” the year before (and who had achieved his greatest renown with the Beatles). Mr. Beck told The New Statesman magazine in 2016 that Mr. Martin had provided “a massive pair of wings.”

“Just knowing that somebody with such sensitive ears was approving of what was going on, you were flying,” he said.

Mr. Beck’s follow-up album, “Wired,” featured two players from Mahavishnu: the drummer Narada Michael Walden and the keyboardist Jan Hammer, expanding the fusion element in the music. Mr. Beck later toured with Mr. Hammer’s band, resulting in the album “Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live,” which went gold in 1977.

Mr. Hammer was also instrumental in Mr. Beck’s 1980 album, “There & Back,” which got to No. 21 on Billboard’s chart. In 1985, Mr. Beck returned to working with vocalists for his “Flash” album, on which Mr. Stewart sang a version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” (The video became an MTV hit.) Another instrumental recording, “Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop,” issued in 1989, became his final gold album.

Starting in the 1990s, Mr. Beck began to do prodigious session work, providing solos on albums by Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Kate Bush, Tina Turner and others. He showed the continued breadth of his style with his “Emotion & Commotion” album in 2010, which included the standard “Over the Rainbow” and Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” The latter track won a Grammy, and the album reached No. 11 in Billboard.

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