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Jeff Beck on Encountering Jimi Hendrix For The First Time

When guitar players get together it's usually a matter of both camaraderie and competition. But some of the greatest cite Jimi Hendrix's arrival in London during September of 1966 as a galvanizing moment.

Hendrix and his band the Experience dazzled the acknowledged guitar kings of the time -- including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and members of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones -- and Beck tells us it was the one time in his playing career when he felt like a gauntlet was thrown down for him:

"I was intimidated by Jimi when I first saw him. But when I put myself together coming out of this small club I just thought, 'What are you gonna do? Are you going to fight or fly?' And there wasn't anything else I wanted to do. And the fact that he'd actually knew me at all was enough to get me through…and what most other guitarists must have been feeling, ‘What do I do now? I can’t possibly hope to impress anybody with what I’m doing.’ I sure that Jimmy Page, and I know for a fact that Pete Townshend was a little bit taken aback…It was a little bit embarrassing to have someone so flamboyant doing exactly what we all wanted to be and doing it far better, I must say…There again, you don’t give up. You go another route. Find something else that’s not what he does."

 

Beck, a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, released his latest album, Loud Hailer, last year and celebrated the 50th anniversary of his recording career, which began with the Yardbirds.

 

 

Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.