Ode to Jeff Beck

It was bittersweet reading social media and seeing the number and variety of songs that Jeff Beck fans cited as their favorites. But when I think of Jeff Beck, it’s not only his music but also two people that come immediately to mind.

The first is Rod Stewart who was introduced to the music charts on Beck’s first solo album Truth. Gobsmacked described my reaction to the voice I heard literally six seconds into the album singing, “Shapes of things before my eyes.” Whew!

The second is Stevie Wonder.

Jeff was a part of Stevie’s Talking Book album sessions and Stevie’s classic hit Superstition was inspired by Beck’s drumming. Stevie permitted Beck to release Jeff’s version of the song ahead of his, where it was intended to be the centerpiece of the Beck, Bogert, and Appice supergroup album.

However, Beck’s album was delayed for a couple of months, and pressured by Motown executive Berry Gordy who knew the hit potential of Superstition, Stevie released his version on the legendary Talking Book album. On that album, Beck played an amazing solo on the track Looking for Another Pure Love. The video below begins with that solo.

There are varying versions of the story as to whether there may or may not have been beef between the two superstars over Superstition. Either way, Stevie made up for it by giving Jeff two songs for his landmark album Blow by Blow. One is the gorgeous Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers, a song that appeared on Wonder’s 1974 album Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta, made with then-wife Syreeta Wright.

Wonder never recorded the second song, Thelonius. While Beck brings his inimitable style to the track, it bears all the imprints of a Stevie Wonder-written song.

R.I.P. Jeff.

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