Jeff Beck, the British rock star known for his deft command of the guitar, has died of bacterial meningitis, his family announced Wednesday.
Beck, 78, spent last summer touring Europe and released a joint album with actor Johnny Depp in July. He contracted meningitis “suddenly,” according to the statement on his official website and social media accounts.
“Her family requests privacy as they process this tremendous loss,” the statement said.
A representative for Beck said the musician was ill over the holidays and died on Tuesday at a hospital near his home in Surrey, England.
The eight-time Grammy winner earned two inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1992 with the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo artist in 2009.
Ranked fifth on Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list, Beck is credited with influencing a generation of musicians and is known for combining all kinds of music: hard rock , jazz, funky blues and even opera.
He spent time in bands like Nightshift and the Tridents and the Yardbirds, which he joined in 1965 to replace Eric Clapton. While with the group, the Yardbirds had hits with “Heart Full of Soul”, “I’m a Man”, and “Shapes of Things”.
Within a year of joining, Beck was replaced in the group by Jimmy Page.
Before he became known as the guitar god, Beck was a boy in England building his first instrument out of a cigar box, a picture frame, and strings from a radio-controlled toy airplane.
KISS bassist Gene Simmons was one of many who wrote tributes to Beck on social media after his death.
“Heartbreaking news to report that the late, great Jeff Back has sadly passed away,” Simmons tweeted. “No one played guitar like Jeff. Get the first two Jeff Beck Group albums and behold greatness. RIP.”
In a series of tweets, original Kinks guitarist Dave Davies expressed shock and dismay at Beck’s death. He said Beck looked “in good shape.”
“My condolences to his wife close friends. I’m baffled Jeff Beck it doesn’t make sense I don’t get it,” Davies tweeted. “He was a good friend and a great guitarist.”
Beck is survived by his wife Sandra.
Diana Dasrath Y Associated Press contributed.