One of my great regrets in this shell game of a construct none but the brave dare call a ‘Music Career’ is the missed opportunity that dangled like a heel liberated displaced shoe before me to put a band together & make an album with Music Meister JEFF BECK.
He approached me at some point in the early 90’s with a view towards us recording a project, largely based as much as anything on one of my All Time Hero’s recommendation, the one & only ROD STEWART. But in any event, I’d previously run into Jeff at a function at someone’s country manor in England when I was living there. A walking calvacade of the British Rock Aristocracy was strolling towards the door of the residence hosting the gathering, & underneath a vintage automobile I saw what was presumed to be a mechanic beneath it looking at its undercarriage.
Just as I was passing the car, perhaps an old Aston Martin, a man rolled out from under it, saw me & said something to the effect of “HEY, IT’S YOU.”
To which I replied something along the lines of “FUCK ME, IT’S YOU !”.
He then replied, “WELL, WE NEEDN’T GO QUITE THAT FAR”, displaying the inimitabile wit for which we’ve come to know our British cousins for possessing & being able to exploit at the right time.
We chatted very briefly, as soon we were ensconced by others of his extremely limited peer group greeting him with the bonhomie of affection which was clearly his to enjoy & return. Here he was, as down to earth as a school janitor, & giving 2 shits about the disparity between his appearance & that of those with whom he would later conjoin inside the stately abode.
The next time we met, was poolside at his preferred Hollywood Hotel, the ‘Sunset Marquis’ getting a bit more of a feel for one another while our planned project was being discussed by the logistical managers of the industry. For reasons as political as were they personal, the dark shadow of Sony boss & nemesis TOMMY MOTTOLA found cause to jettison the collaboration as I was at the time, along with Master Beck, chained by the neck to the rather unfortunate black cloud of Tommy’s painfully restricted ‘idea of me’, & even more patronizing,
‘What I SHOULD Be Doing As An Artist’.
Plus, as far as I’m concerned, some routine jealousy exuded its fragrance into the mix, much as I found existed once the great grand master Miles Davis became somewhat of a mentor. I’d always felt that Mottola seemed more concerned with ‘teaching me lessons’ than actually promoting me as an artist & this did very much feel to my sensibilities as some sort of ‘payback’ for not treating him as if he knew better than I, the inner workings of my own heart & instincts. I never forgave him for this & to add insult to deepen the wound, it was presented to Jeff’s camp that I WAS THE ONE who was presenting issues with the furtherance of the situation, which couldn’t have been more distant from the truth.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME ? I was a major fan of the work that particularly Jeff & Rod had made together, & one of the very first songs I learned to play when I was teaching myself the Guitar was ‘I AIN’T SUPERSTITIOUS’, one of my favorite pieces of music. So, suffice it to say that I was as eager to break bread with Jeff as would any erstwhile fool be given the chance.
This was a story meant to be reserved for ‘my book’ at some point, but when my wife Francesca informed me of his departure from these immediate physical realms, that old regret reared its riddled mind & reclaimed my attention. Which does in fact make this seem much more about ME, than HIM, but which is my instinctive way of saluting a life so rich in respect & regard from his fans & admirers, of which I have been for all of my musical life.
I was always amused by the fact that to Jeff, Guitar was more of a hobby in some ways, whereas his love of CARS & Engines was foremost. He was an even greater wizard wearing overalls with grease on his hands & oil stains on his trousers.
For a while, master HENDRIX scared the shit out of other string slingers, but for JIMI himself, JEFF BECK was among those few men that he admired most.
HE WENT HIS OWN WAY, & WALKED HIS OWN PATH & the mark he left on Time & its Children will remain with us all, as does an echo remain ever close to the walls of a canyon’s crease.
REST IN PEACE DEAR MR. BECK & BON VOYAGE !
Sananda Maitreya !
Thursday 12 January 2023
© TreeHouse Publishing, Jan 12th 2023.
Photo courtesy of The New York Times