The song was originally written by Curtis Mayfield, and later recorded by Beck with Rod Stewart. It appeared on Beck’s 1985 album, Flash, and though it wasn’t a massive hit for the guitarist, it did became a staple of his set lists and one of his most recognizable songs.
“He was a musician that I always loved. He was the best,” Joel told the crowd at Madison Square Garden on Friday. “I couldn’t let the night go by without doing something by Jeff.” While Joel sat at the piano, his band members traded vocal lines.
Then, at the end of the concert, Joel slipped in another Beck tribute. As the band concluded Joel’s 1980 track, “You May Be Right,” they stayed on stage and began jamming to “Going Down,” a song written by Don Nix that the Jeff Beck Group included on their 1972 self-titled album. “We should have rehearsed it,” Joel said on stage, before asking for the key of the song and jamming on.
You can watch footage from the concert down below.
Beck died earlier this week at the age of 78 after a brief battle with bacterial meningitis.
“He was one of my heroes,” Joel shared on Twitter following the news. “I was fortunate to meet him recently and I’m very grateful now that I was able to tell him how much I admired his musical skill. This is the end of an era.”
Watch Billy Joel Cover ‘People Get Ready’ in Tribute to Jeff Beck
Watch Billy Joel Cover ‘Going Down’ in Tribute to Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck Photos: Highlights From the Guitar Virtuoso’s Career
Few other artists made such a seismic impact on the medium.