Eric Clapton Leads All-Star Tribute Concert for Jeff Beck
Eric Clapton has announced a pair of all-star tribute concerts for onetime rival Jeff Beck, to be held May 22-23 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Already confirmed guests stars include Jeff Beck Group singer Rod Stewart, Billy Gibbons, former Allman Brothers Band member Derek Trucks, John McLaughlin, Joss Stone, Gary Clark Jr., Doyle Bramhall, Robert Randolph, Imelda May and Johnny Depp – the latter of whom collaborated on Beck's final album, 18. The shows were announced in conjunction with Beck's widow, Sandra. Additional details are still to come.
Beck died in January after contracting bacterial meningitis. He was 78.
He and Clapton built their legends as members of the Yardbirds and both appeared on 1965's Having a Rave Up – but they were never part of the lineup at the same time. Clapton played guitar in the band from 1963-65 before leaving for John Mayall's more structured Bluesbreakers, while Beck was a member of the Yardbirds in 1965-66.
"I know he didn't like the fact that I took over from him in the Yardbirds and we did great," Beck told Classic Rock in 2021. "The general buzz of the band was that they thought they were finished when Eric left. At my debut with the Yardbirds at the Marquee, I showed them what was what and I got a standing ovation, so that was the end of that."
In truth, mutual respect was there all along. "I always tuned in to Jeff, all through my life," Clapton later told writer David Fricke. He took the stage in February to play a traditional Irish traveler's lament called "Sam Hall" after Beck died.
Their first billed onstage performance together wouldn't happen until 1981's Secret Policeman's Other Ball, an Amnesty International benefit concert held in London. Beck and Clapton also played the Action into Research for Multiple Sclerosis benefit for ailing Small Faces co-founder Ronnie Lane in 1983.
More recently, they did a series of shared dates in 2010, including stops at the O2 Arena and Madison Square Garden, among others. Beck and Clapton played together again in 2017, the same year Beck was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.
Any rivalry that was once there had long since dissipated. Each time, however, they stayed well away from their Yardbirds repertoire. "He came to play on a couple of numbers I did at Ronnie Scott's last year and it was really good fun," Beck told Rolling Stone in 2017. "There was no sort of 'I'm better than you' thing going on." As for returning to songs from their early band? "Eric doesn't like the Yardbirds," Beck argued.
Jeff Beck Photos: Highlights From the Guitar Virtuoso's Career
See Eric Clapton’s Guitar Hero Yearbook Picture