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Jeff Beck's 50 years have gone by "in a flash"
Jeff Beck says it feels like it's been a long career when he's in the midst of travel.
But when it comes to the music itself -- 50 years as a solo artist, following his departure from the Yardbirds in 1966 -- it seems like it's gone by "in a flash" for the British guitar hero.
"It's like, 'Fifty years ago...Who's that they're talkin' about?'" Beck, 72, says with a laugh from his home in England. "Because in my head, I was one of those guys who loved it at 18 and wasn't going to have anyone remove it from my head.
"So I look through most of my windows as an 18-, 21-year-old. It was a good time."
It's been a long and winding road for the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as well, from his own Jeff Beck Group (which featured a young Rod Stewart on vocals) to his acclaimed jazz-rock fusion excursions during the 70s and an eclectic array of releases and collaborations ever since. This year he's released a new album, "Loud Hailer," with a fresh band and producer, and Beck says that appetite to experiment and explore is what's kept him vital and active for more than five decades.
I think a series of kicks in the head, you know," he explains, "from all the history of rock 'n' roll unfolding and smacking me in the face but offering challenges as well, just constant, constant challenges. That's probably what sticks out most. And having those constant leaning posts like John McLaughlin and the whole Mahavishnu thing, which I think is way beyond most people at least at that time.
"I can be confident that there's at least some great music to be played. Just to stay in the business without massive hit records is by no means a small feat, and if I'd thought about it I probably would've flipped out a long time ago. But I just stick with the guitar and investigate, wherever possible, the next move."
Beck's other big release this year is "BECK101," a limited edition coffee table book that documents not only his passion for music but also for rebuilding vintage hot rods. Doing that, he says, was a decidedly different kind of challenge than making music.
"I wasn't so sure about the cars because ZZ Top has sort of perfected what to do with the cars with 'Eliminator' and all their music videos with the cars," Beck says. "But the publisher said 'Look, you've built the cars. You've built the chassis. You've built five, six, seven cars, so you should include them.'
" I don't like the idea of somebody hoisting their hobby on somebody, but when I thought about it I thought maybe there's enough people who're interested in seeing how they all came together, so I said OK."
Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy team up on Saturday
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30.
Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills.
Tickets are $65.95 and $35.95 pavilion, $30 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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