18 September 2022 (released)

5 d

Some biographies talk about the person, and the life, and then other biographies talk of the work, with a little bit of the life. Crazy Fingers falls very much into the second camp.

If you want to learn about Jeff Beck’s guitars, who played in his band at which time, and the turns in his fortunes, this is the book for you. If on the other hand, you want to learn about his unpredictability, the reasons for his behaviour, and the seemingly odd choices he made along the way, then there is very little of that in here.

It is not as if Jeff Beck has not led a life, he has. From replacing Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, his life-long friendship with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, his early involvements with Jimi Hendrix, his part at the scene of a lot of important music-making, his refusal to play at Woodstock, his incendiary, but short-lived musical projects with Rod Stewart, his dabbling with Jazz-Rock Fusion, all of these elements of his story are there, but there is no illumination of his inner mind.

We have some sense of the importance of his playing to other players, ranging from Eric Clapton to Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Queen’s Brian May, Joe Perry from Aerosmith and many others, we also learn about his love for the musicians that preceded him, such as Les Paul and Cliff Gallup.

Throughout the book, there are timely reminders of the post-world war that Jeff Beck and his sister grew up in, and the effect that bands such as Bill Halley and the Comets, Buddy Holly and many others had on Jeff Beck and his generation, forcing colour into an otherwise Monochrome world, but there is also the influence of the blues from the greats such as BB King and Buddy Guy, many of whom he formed friendships with and performed with, both live and in the studio.

The book is very well written, and thoroughly researched, with many of the musicians who worked with Jeff Beck describing their working relationships with him, there are numerous interviews, and first-person sources throughout the book, giving something of an insight into one of the most revered guitarists whoever committed fingers to strings, and notes to recording machinery.

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