It was a big Grammy Award year for legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck, who walked in with five nominations and walked out with three trophies added to his career take of eight.
They were gratifying wins, too. After all, there was hardly a point where you could have told the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer that he’d even record Puccini’s opera classic “Nessun Dorma,” much less win an award for it.
“It’s quite ludicrous, the choice,” acknowledges Beck, 66, who recorded the song for his 2010 album “Emotion & Commotion.” “But when I heard (Luciano) Pavarotti sing it, I thought all it is is a sophisticated blues. He pours it out and bellows out those notes the way a blues singer would. So along comes me and I have a go at the melody and it just enables me to do another form of emotional expression, really.”
Beck also shared a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for his contributions to a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” from Herbie Hancock’s album “The Imagine Project.” The third Grammy, meanwhile, was the Best Rock Instrumental for “Hammerhead,” another “Emotion & Commotion” track that was inspired by playing his 1968 Jeff Beck Group hit “Hi Ho Silver Lining” — a song Beck “hated with a passion” — at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2009.
“We changed the arrangement,” Beck recalls, “and came up with this Jan Hammer-type riff, a real Hammeresque type of riff that we put underneath the chord changes that were on the original ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining.’ People didn’t understand the song that night, so we decided to use that riff and put another melody on it, and that’s how (‘Hammerhead’) was born — a new spin on an old idea, if you will.”
Jeff Beck and the Imelda May Band perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St. Tickets are $35-85. Call 734-668-8463 or visit www.michtheater.org.
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