Joe Bonamassa often speaks of his influences, but in a recent interview the blues guitar superstar singled out the man he believes to be “the best rock ‘n’ roll guitar player in the world” – Jeff Beck.
Speaking to New York’s WAXQ, JoBo waxed lyrical about Beck’s evergreen impact on the guitar world, and praised his ability to continually introduce new and fresh approaches to playing the instrument.
When asked about the players who consistently blow his mind, he named Beck then explained why.
“Every decade rolls over, he’s still the best rock 'n' roll guitar player in the world,” he said. “He figures out a new way to do something different with the guitar in every decade that he’s been active – '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s to now.”
Expanding on his point, Bonamassa reflected on the time he was backstage with Beck seven or eight years ago, during which he witnessed Beck’s effortless brilliance first hand.
“[Beck] would retreat into his dressing room and he’d take his guitar and plug it into his little practice amp,” he continued. “It was probably just some little battery-powered thing. And I should have been playing too because we had to go on before.
“I couldn’t even look at the guitar while I was listening to that. It made you want to weep and you’re like, ‘It’s him, it comes out of him.’
“And it doesn’t matter if it’s a little practice amp, you just give him a guitar and he’ll figure out a way to get these sounds out of it, and that’s complete raw talent. It’s not the equipment, it’s just him.”
It’s not the first time JoBo has voiced his admiration for the 78-year-old. Back in 2019, Bonamassa singled out Beck’s Let Me Love You to Guitar World as one of the best blues rock guitar solos of all time, and called him “the best rock guitar player in the world”.
“This was the first time I heard a Les Paul used as a weapon,” Bonamassa said of Let Me Love You. “I was very intrigued with that. It sounds angry and vital. It sounds like Jeff’s out to prove himself and to show everybody he’s the man.
“And you’re like, ‘Wow, it’s just a Les Paul and a Marshall.’ But the way he played it was extremely new.
“And Jeff’s been able to reinvent himself five, six decades since then and he’s still the best rock guitar player in the world. It’s amazing what he’s done.”
As a testament to Bonamassa’s praise, Beck has been keeping himself plenty busy in recent months, having announced a joint album with actor/musician, Johnny Depp, with whom he performed live a handful of times last month.
Of his close-friend Gales, Bonamassa said, “Even though he’s a little bit older than me, he’s been playing just as long. It’s like he’s constantly searching for a little thing to change it, you know, which is great.”
Bonamassa and Gales’ relationship is one of blues’ greatest contemporary pairings – one that has seen the two join forces for a handful of Blues Cruise ventures, live performances and on Gales’ latest solo album, Crown, which Bonamassa produced and guested on.