Jon Bon Jovi was interviewed on the Howard Stern Show recently and was asked to quickly pick his favorite guitarist. His answer? “Jeff Beck.”
In the clip below, the Bon Jovi frontman is immediately challenged on his answer by Stern, who asks “Not Jimi Hendrix?” However, the singer responds with a quick anecdote relaying his first-hand experience of Beck’s technique and tonal wizardry.
“Jimi Hendrix would be of course in the starting lineup,” acknowledges Bon Jovi. “But you put me on the spot. And Prince, Eddie [Van Halen] – they’re all different – but I was in the room with Jeff Beck when he took a guitar out of a cardboard box, with a rented amplifier and no pedals and created that sound.
“[It was] when we did the Young Guns record and he was my guitar player. I sat there flabbergasted because Jeff Beck did things with his fingers with his thumb that would blow your mind. So he's different.”
Bon Jovi is referring to is his first solo album, Blaze Of Glory, which was released alongside the movie Young Guns II in 1990. Bon Jovi made a cameo appearance in the film and the tracks Billy Get Your Guns and Blaze Of Glory both featured in the end credits.
Jeff Beck was recruited as part of a star-studded line-up that featured Elton John and Little Richard, alongside a host of session pros. However, Beck made a sizeable contribution to the record, laying down six solos across the collection.
Chief among them is the searing, melodic lead section of the title track, Blaze of Glory – a song that hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
The recording shows the guitarist’s continued growth (at some 30 years into his playing career), being informed somewhat by the hair metal era. However, it is still full of deft Beck touches – not least his unrivaled whammy bar control.
There’s a brief but endearing MTV clip of Bon Jovi and Beck in the studio together a the time, in which the former airily tells Beck he’ll need an improvised part played slower. You can then watch as it dawns on him who he’s issuing instructions to... “You can hit me any time you want,” says the singer. “I’ve just told Jeff Beck how to play guitar!”
Bon Jovi’s story also reminds you that Beck’s session list is so enormous that it’s easy to overlook his contribution on chart topping hits, let alone the more obscure material.
The guitarist’s passing left us reflecting on many of his underrated contributions and collaborations – as our recent Jeff Beck guest appearances and deep cuts pieces attest – the scope and variety is astounding.