Guitarist – March 2023
English | 133 pages | pdf | 122.95 MB
In 1968 and ’69, the legendary French yachtsman Bernard Moitessier was sailing in the prestigious Golden Globe Race for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the planet by sail. He stood to win a large prize pot and instant fame if he won the race and was well placed to do so. However, after rounding Cape Horn, he pulled alongside a passing ship and used a slingshot to fire a message onto its deck.
It contained a statement to the effect that he was pulling out of the race, with immediate effect “because I am happy at sea and perhaps to save my soul”. Then he set a course for the Pacific, with no other goal than complete freedom.
It’s a fitting coincidence that, almost at the same time, Jeff Beck released his first solo album with The Jeff Beck Group, entitled Truth, after leaving The Yardbirds under a cloud of illness and disillusionment (see page 63). Like Moitessier, Beck never wanted to run someone else’s race. And if chart success and fame was welcome, it was never his driving force. By his own admission, Beck felt he had failed if he didn’t push the art of playing guitar a little further with each record, each tour, each gig.
It’s also telling that his greatest commercial hit, Hi Ho Silver Lining, was also the achievement he was, perhaps, least proud of. For if he never quite matched the giddying celebrity of contemporaries such as Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, he was rich in a rarer coin: respect.
Few guitarists are so widely admired for sheer virtuosity as Jeff Beck.
As he was rarely far from a stage, you could always go and see Jeff Beck play, somewhere or other – for by refusing the straitjacket of commercialism, he never lost his love of playing, or his freedom. Like Moitessier, he was happiest charting his own course. We hope you enjoy this Magazine issue’s tribute to his life and music.
Jamie Dickson Editor-in-chief