As every musician, Keith Richards was interested in music since he was a young kid and he was influenced by his maternal grandfather Augustus “Gus” Dupree, who toured with a jazz big band in the United Kingdom, making him even more interested in the guitar. The first lessons he had was with his grandfather and only a few years later he started to make history as a founding member of The Rolling Stones.
The band released 31 studio albums, the most recent one being “Hackney Diamonds” in 2023 and has sold an estimated amount of more than 200 million records worldwide. Over the decades Richards was featured among the greatest guitarists of all time but he always praised other artists he also felt like should be recognized as the best.
The guitarist that Keith Richards said was one of the best of all time
Since The Rolling Stones started their career in the early 60s, Richards was able to see up-close the evolution of the incredible scene that the United Kingdom had. One of the incredible guitar players who appeared at that time was Jeff Beck, who Richards described as one of the best. The Rolling Stones guitarist is only one year older than Beck but started his musical career four years before the late guitarist who passed away in 2023 at the age of 78.
In an interview with Guitar World, Richards recalled that Jeff Beck almost joined The Rolling Stones and praised him as one of the best. “We felt that Jeff had his own furrow to plow and that he was not a team man,” Richards recalled. “He was a soloist to the max. He was such an individualist. It wouldn’t have worked with the Stones at all. We’re all about teamwork.”
“But don’t get me wrong, he was a tremendous player,” Richards went on. “The odd times we got together, I was always amazed by the stuff that he did with his tremolo bar. He was one of the best, man, and he’s going to be missed,” Keith Richards said.
From their inception until 1969, Brian Jones was The Rolling Stones lead guitarist and after he was fired in 1969, the band invited Mick Taylor to join them. The successful partnership lasted until 1974 when the musician decided to leave the group. He was replaced by Ronnie Wood, who curiously played the bass in many Jeff Beck albums like the classic “Truth” (1968).
After Beck’s passing in January, 2023, Keith released a statement praising him once again, saying he was a brilliant player. “I am very sad to hear about Jeff’s passing. He was a brilliant guitar player!!! On the occasions we got to play together, we had a ball. ‘Let’s do this more often’, we said! Jeff was a great guy and will be missed by all. My heartfelt condolences to his family,” Keith Richards said.
They weren’t friends all the time
Every friendship has ups and downs, so it wasn’t different from the relationship between Jeff Beck and Keith Richards. As the Rolling Stones guitarist told Spin Magazine in 1985, they couldn’t even see each other a few years before. “Guitar players, for me, are the hardest ones to know, all this professional shit going on. Very unprofessional, really. I mean, there’s a million guitar players, a million different types of guitar players, and the fact that we hit it real big, real quick.
“And these guys were at least as good as I am. A lot of ’em were a lot fuckin’ better, just as guitar players. I mean, Jeff Beck and I, for years, could hardly stand the sight of each other. It’s only been over the last few years that that’s all fallen by the wayside. Thank God it’s all over and we can sit around and have a drink and talk. That’s a guy I admire a lot. He’s a great player,” Keith Richards said.
But their relationship got better and the musician played with them live many times over the decades. Beck also played the guitar on the two first solo albums Mick Jagger released. They are “She’s The Boss” (1985) and “Primitive Cool” (1987).
To promote those albums, Beck played many concerts with Mick. They even did some covers like Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”.