Jeff Beck, Legendary Rock Musician, Dead at 78

The iconic guitarist passed away suddenly on Tuesday, per a statement from his family.

Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has died. He was 78.

Beck passed away suddenly on Tuesday, Jan. 10, after contracting bacterial meningitis, according to a statement from his family.

"On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck's passing," the musician's representatives said in a statement shared with ABC. "After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss."

Beck first rose to fame as a member of the British rock band The Yardbirds after he replaced fellow guitar legend Eric Clapton who left the group in 1965. During Beck's tenure, the band released the hit singles "Heart Full of Soul," "I'm a Man" and "Shapes of Things."

Born Geoffrey Arnold Beck on June 24, 1944, in Wallington, England, Beck left The Yardbirds after about a year–a move credited with forcing the band's demise as rocker Jimmy Page followed suit to form Led Zeppelin in 1968.

After his brief co-opt with Page, Beck moved on to his next project–The Jeff Beck Group–initially alongside Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, who would go on to perform at the 1969 Woodstock music festival. 

Jeff Beck Group, 1967: Aynsley Dunbar, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Ron Wood.<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Chris Walter/Getty Images" class="link ">Chris Walter/Getty Images</a></p>
Jeff Beck Group, 1967: Aynsley Dunbar, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Ron Wood.

Chris Walter/Getty Images

Over the years, Beck used the freedom found in his group of ever-rotating musicians to experiment and further develop his artistry, which pioneered the psychedelic rock scene and resulted in the guitarist receiving numerous credits alongside industry titans including George Martin (a.k.a. "the fifth Beatle"), Jimi HendrixKeith Moon, Cyndi LauperTim BogertCarmine Appice, and many others.

"Jeff Beck is the best guitar player on the planet," Joe Perry, the lead guitarist of Aerosmith, told The New York Times in 2010. "He is head, hands and feet above all the rest of us, with the kind of talent that appears only once every generation or two."

Beck last toured with the band in the fall of 2022 with current members Rhonda Smith, Anika Nilles and Robert Stevenson, supported by ZZ Top and Johnny Depp.

His longstanding and influential career didn't go unnoticed. He was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and went on to win eight Grammy Awards as well as earned not one but two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once as a member of The Yardbirds in 1992 and again as a solo artist in 2009.

Beck is survived by his wife, Sandra.

Information regarding memorial plans or a celebration of life was not immediately available.