The Jeff Beck Group was a rock band formed in the U.K. in February 1967 by ex-Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck. Their innovative approach to heavy-sounding blues was a major influence on popular music in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The first Jeff Beck Group was formed in the U.K. in 1967, consisting of Jeff Beck guitar, Rod Stewart vocals, Ron Wood bass, and Aynsley Dunbar drums. Beck had signed a personal management contract with famed U.K. singles record producer and manager, Mickie Most.
The first Jeff Beck Group was formed in the U.K. in 1967, consisting of Jeff Beck guitar, Rod Stewart vocals, Ron Wood bass, and Aynsley Dunbar drums. Beck had signed a personal management contract with famed U.K. singles record producer and manager, Mickie Most. Beck had envisioned forming the band he eventually did, but for the first part of their existence (early '67), they were relegated to being a 'backup band' for Beck, who was pressured by Most to become a solo act and singer; something Beck resented. They recorded three U.K. singles, each with lower sales than its predecessor; the 'B' sides demonstrated the group's potential. Most lost interest in Beck quickly, and the group floundered for the better part of a year. Most's employee Peter Grant was keen to manage his own band, and took on The Jeff Beck Group.
Having been to the States as tour manager for The New Vaudeville Band, Grant was aware of a new concert and album trend developing in the U.S., where a band could be launched through concerts - without a hit single. Beck's outfit was made to order for this new market. And so he tried - repeatedly, desperately, and in vain to buy Beck's contract from Mickie Most. And although Most had lost interest in Beck, he refused to sell. In early '68, however, Grant arranged a six week U.S. tour for the band. Dunbar had already left to play 'straight blues', being replaced briefly by Roy Cook and then eventually by Micky Waller. This final gamble paid off - they took the States by storm. Grant used their reviews (most notably The New York Times) to secure a contract with Epic records for a U.S. release. Upon return to the U.K., Most was still disinterested, and spent very little time supervising the album sessions, basically leaving the project in the hands of the band and a young engineer/producer, Ken Scott, who had worked with The Beatles, and was soon to produce all of David Bowie and The Spiders From Mars' records. The result was the album Truth, to this day considered a 'touchstone' to many musicians, and a seminal influence on all 'Hard Blues','Hard Rock', and 'Heavy Metal' music that was to follow, (via Led Zeppelin), often cited as usurpers of Beck's act, and largely (behind the scenes) responsible for its breakup.
This four piece lineup then toured the U.S. to coincide with the release of Truth in early/mid 1968. The tour was another huge success, and they were being touted as the obvious replacement to Cream. The album climbed to number 15 on the Billboard charts and at Peter Grant's insistence, Jimmy Page was present for most of the second tours shows - apparently studying the band, their audience and material. Many insiders claim that Grant and Page were plotting to form a similar group, which they quickly did; trying to snag the 'gravel-sounding' vocal stylings of Steve Marriott, Terry Reid, and Paul Rodgers among others, before settling on Robert Plant temporarily.
Late in the year, well-known session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins accepted an offer to tour with The Beck Group, although offered more money to tour with Led Zeppelin. This lineup (Beck, Stewart, Wood, Waller and Hopkins), is considered by many to be one of the finest in rock history. But they would ultimately suffer from internal struggles, jealousies and firings. Ron Wood was fired at least twice, and in 1969 Micky Waller was replaced by drummer Tony Newman, who stayed with the group until they disbanded. They played many gigs from 1967 to 1969. Through most of 1967 they played the club circuit up and down England, as well as short tours to Europe and Scandinavia. 1968 and 1969 saw them playing a large amount of shows, mostly in the U.S., but again in Europe as well. Jimi Hendrix was a big fan of the group and joined them on stage during the 1968 US tour, jamming with Jeff Beck on stage.
Sadly though, for a band that stayed together almost three years, their output is lacking. They were only to produce three ill-conceived U.K. singles, and two L.P.'s. There are however, dozens of early recordings produced at DeLane Lea studios in 1967 and 1968, specifically for various BBC radio shows, including Saturday Club, Top Gear, and the Simmonds Show. Although bootlegged in poor quality, these have never been officially released.
In mid 1969, after completing the admittedly rushed Beck-Ola, The Group toured the States for the last time with Nicky Hopkins, who had to stop touring for health reasons. They were to do a bit more touring as a four-piece in '69, notably appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival, but the band dissolved on the eve of the Woodstock Festival, at which they were scheduled to appear (they are listed on the promotional posters and ads). There is virtually no known TV or film footage of this band. There are bootleg live recordings of their concerts and film footage posted on Youtube.
After the group disbanded, Rod Stewart and Ron Wood went on to join Small Faces, who were about to break up because of the loss of Steve Marriott. They were renamed Faces. Meanwhile, Jeff Beck planned to join Vanilla Fudge's Rhythm section, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, but suffered a head injury in a car wreck. Bogert and Appice would go on to form Cactus while Beck recovered.
After recovering from his injuries, Beck reformed the group with vocalist Bob Tench, keyboardist Max Middleton, drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Clive Chaman. The band would go on to release two more albums before disbanding.
Jeff Beck went on to join Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, forming the band Beck, Bogert & Appice. They released one studio album, which made it to #12 on Billboard in 1972, and one live album. While planning to release a second album, Beck left the group to reunite with Max Middleton. He released mostly instrumental fusion albums and eventually began recording techno.
Rod Stewart and Ron Wood had tremendous success with Faces, and were known for their rowdy, raucous live shows, as well as some very developed and poignant recordings. Simultaneously, Stewart pursued a solo career for Mercury records. After releasing two solo L.P.'s to average sales and critical acclaim, his third album Every Picture tells A Story produced one of the biggest hits of the '70s - "Maggie May". Both the single and the L.P. shot to the #1 Billboard chart position. With the success of this record, Stewart launched a tremendously successful solo career that continues 35 years on.
As for Faces, Ronnie Lane grew disenchanted with being relegated to the sidelines, and was replaced by Japanese bassist, Tetsu Yamauchi. Because Tetsu was unable to get a work permit in the UK, the band decided to break up. Ron Wood continued to play with Stewart, until he replaced Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones.
Cozy Powell went on to join Rainbow and several temporary acts before joining Black Sabbath.
The Jeff Beck Group, minus Rod Stewart, backed Donovan on both songs on his 1969 single "Barabajagal" b/w "Trudi". Both the Jeff Beck Group and Donovan shared Most as producer.
* Truth 1968
* Beck-Ola 1969
* Rough and Ready 1971
* Jeff Beck Group 1972