Jeff Beck played nice with others – many others – throughout his 60-year recording career, although some bandmates may say that “nice” was not always the case.
Nevertheless, Beck’s musical life put him alongside scores of other musicians, as a band member (from Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages to the Yardbirds to Beck, Bogert & Appice), leading two Jeff Beck Groups and employing corps of top-shelf players as a solo artist. The guitarist some consider the best-ever electric player was also a guest of choice, particularly after his two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame reputation was established with the Yardbirds.
Since the late ’60s, Beck has lent his skills to no less than three dozen recordings by other artists, a range that includes likely candidates and surprises such as Diana Ross, Kate Bush, Seal and Kelly Clarkson. There’s a whole lotta Beck out there, but we revisit some of his six-string cameos in the below list of Jeff Beck’s 19 Best Guest Appearances.
Stevie Wonder, “Lookin’ for Another Pure Love” (1972)
Beck had recorded an album’s worth of music at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit during 1970, working with the Funk Brothers as well as his drummer Cozy Powell. That material has never been released, but the guitarist appeared on Motown via Stevie Wonder‘s Talking Book, playing on the deep cut “Lookin’ for Another Pure Love.” Wonder returned the favor on 1975’s Blow by Blow, playing uncredited clavinet on Beck’s version of his “Thelonious,” one of two Wonder covers on the album.
Stanley Clarke, Journey to Love (1975)
Beck was in full jazz fusion flight during the mid-’70s, so he was an appropriate choice to be part of the Return to Forever bassist’s third solo album. Beck is featured on the title track and the cheekily titled “Hello Jeff,” then came back into Clarke’s world for “Rock ‘n’ Roll Jelly” on 1978’s Modern Man.
Rod Stewart, Camouflage (1984)
The original Jeff Beck Group pair rekindled their on-and-off relationship for Rod Stewart‘s 13th solo album, with Beck playing on “Infatuation,” “Bad for You” and a cover of Todd Rundgren‘s “Can We Still Be Friends.” The former was a Top 10 hit and the album went gold, but Beck opted out of a planned tour with Stewart for that summer. They’d be back together the following year, however, combining for a hit cover of the Impressions’ “People Get Ready” on Beck’s Flash album.
Tina Turner, “Private Dancer” (1984)
Dire Straits‘ Mark Knopfler intended the title track of Turner’s comeback album for his band’s Love Over Gold album but felt the lyrics wouldn’t sound right coming from a male singer. So Straits’ manager Ed Bicknell pitched it to Tina Turner‘s manager Roger Davies for everybody’s gain. Beck contributed the guitar solo, while the rest of Dire Straits, sans Knopfler, re-recorded their parts for the Turner version.
Vanilla Fudge, Mystery (1984)
When Vanilla Fudge regrouped for their first album in 15 years, Beck was on hand, though he’s credited for contractual reasons as J. Toad.
Mick Jagger, She’s the Boss (1985) and Primitive Cool (1987)
With the Rolling Stones on an acrimonious hiatus, Mick Jagger tapped Beck – who was twice considered for membership – as the lead guitarist of choice for his first two solo albums. He’s on six tracks for She’s the Boss and the entirety of its follow-up, though he wound up not touring as part of Jagger’s solo band.
Malcolm McLaren, Waltz Darling (1989)
The onetime Sex Pistols manager and muso impresario threw a lot at the wall here, including Beck, who joins Bootsy Collins on “House of the Blue Danube (An Instrumental)” and Gina Ce on “Call a Wave.”
Buddy Guy, “Mustang Sally” and “Early in the Morning” (1991)
Chicago bluesman Guy was a hero to many on the British scene during the ’60s, so Beck – along with Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler – were only too happy to help out on Guy’s comeback album, Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues. Beck plays on Sir Mack Rice’s “Mustang Sally,” then teams with Yardbirds predecessor Clapton on “Early in the Morning.”
Roger Waters, Amused to Death (1992)
Beck’s ringing tone was a good fit for the former Pink Floyd bassist’s third solo album, serving as a principal soloist appearing on five of its tracks, including the lead single “What God Wants, Pt. 1.”
Kate Bush, “You’re the One” (1993)
Bush wasn’t running up the hill on her The Red Shoes album, but her guitar army on the album included Clapton, Prince and, on its closing track, Beck’s distinct tone.
Paul Rodgers, “Rollin’ Stone” (1993)
Beck helped another old friend, Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers, on Muddy Waters Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters, rockin’ on this classic from the Waters repertoire.
ZZ Top, “Hey Mr. Millionaire” (1999)
The title of their collaboration on ZZ Top‘s XXX album probably applied to both Beck and that Little Ol’ Band From Texas’ three members. It is, not surprisingly, a comfortable fit, and the two acts combined again on “Rough Boy” and “Sixteen Tons” from ZZ Top’s Live: Greatest Hits Around the World in 2016.
Pretenders, “Legalise Me” (1999)
Beck and Pretenders‘ Chrissie Hynde struck up an association that led to him playing on this track from the band’s 1999 set, Viva El Amor, and then joining Hynde for “Mystery Train” from 2001’s Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records. They’d also periodically join each other onstage over the years.
Joe Cocker, “I (Who Have Nothing)” (2004)
Beck was part of the guest list on fellow British stalwart Joe Cocker‘s all-covers album Heart & Soul, playing on this English language cover of the soulful Italian staple “Uno Dei Tanti.”
Yardbirds, “My Blind Life” (2003)
Though he’d slammed the band pretty hard at its 1992 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction for firing him, Beck was happy enough 11 years later to contribute to Birdland, a new album by a reconstituted Yardbirds led by original members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty. Clapton came back, too, while fellow six-stringers Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Queen‘s Brian May, Slash, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Toto‘s Steve Lukather also pitched in.
Imelda May, “Black Tears” (2017)
Irish singer May was a big part of Rock ‘n’ Roll Party, Beck’s 2011 live album celebrating Les Paul. He returned the favor by guesting on this key track from Life Love Fresh Blood, May’s fifth album.
Dion, “Can’t Start Over Again” (2020)
The Wanderer’s Blues With Friends album was just that, Beck was among a great many pals – including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Gibbons, Van Morrison and others – helping out on the set.
Jeff Beck Photos: Highlights From the Guitar Virtuoso’s Career
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