The best drummer Jeff Beck had ever heard

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Jeff Beck, standing shoulder to shoulder with legends like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, unquestionably earns his spot among the world’s top guitarists.

While many unsung talents can match their prowess, Beck and Hendrix’s names shine brightly as they mastered electric blues guitar just as punk rock began to emerge.

In 2021, during a chat with Louder Sound, Beck nostalgically spoke of his admiration and friendly competition with Hendrix. “The moment I saw Jimi play, Eric [Clapton] and I instantly knew he was a game-changer,” Beck remarked. “Watching his early UK performances was awe-inspiring. Hendrix had a flair for drama – from setting his guitar ablaze to his mesmerizing fretwork, all combined with incredible music.”

“I wouldn’t claim to have been close to him, but I did spend some memorable times in London with Jimi,” Beck added. “One time at the Olympic studios, I gifted him a bottleneck, which he later used on ‘Axis: Bold As Love.’ We even jammed together in New York at The Scene.”

The late 60s in London was also a hub for exceptional drummers. Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix’s right hand in The Experience; Ginger Baker, Clapton’s mate in Cream; and John Bonham, Page’s partner in Led Zeppelin, all made their marks.

In a 2016 conversation with New Statesman’s Kate Mossman, Beck talked about his distinct journey in music. He mentioned how a kitchen accident led him to insure his fingers for $7 million. But what really transformed his musical perspective was touring with the jazz-rock band Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Beck recalls, “Being around [frontman John] McLaughlin was enlightening. Watching him and his saxophonist exchange solos, I felt a deep connection. McLaughlin’s mastery of scales and the emotion within them was captivating. Playing alongside him and then with the Stones – it was surreal!”

He reserved special appreciation for the band’s drummer, Billy Cobham. Beck described him as, “A genius behind the drums. Not just about being loud, but more about the finesse. Most times, he was just gracefully dancing with the drums, like a butterfly.”

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