Eric Clapton on seeing Jeff Beck play for the first time: “His technique, even then…”

“I thought that if I changed my mind, I was not going to be able to go back because this guy had got what it takes.”

Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton

Image: Roger Kisby / Getty Images

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As far as first impressions go, Jeff Beck and his guitar prowess had certainly made a strong one on Eric Clapton back in the day.

In a new interview with Real Music Observer, Clapton revealed his thoughts on seeing the late guitar legend perform with his old band The Tridents for the first time, right around the period where Beck was due to be his successor in The Yardbirds.

“[Beck] was in a group called the Tridents, a very low-profile band,” Clapton said. “Strong and well-known in the area, but I snuck in and saw them, and I thought that if I changed my mind, I was not going to be able to go back because this guy had got what it takes. I thought he wouldn’t put up with that.”

“I think that was probably why he brought Jimmy Page and just so they could have a good time because clearly, the band was going to go mainstream and try to get big.”

“So, what I heard when I saw him that night was it was the first time I saw anyone use pedals, effects, and a mini rack. His technique, even then…” Clapton continued, adding that Beck had only gotten better as the years passed.

“I mean, when I last saw him play in America last year, I was watching him on YouTube. We were doing gigs in Europe, and I was really getting down, and I was not well. I still had COVID when I was playing gigs.”

“I go back to my room, and I find Jeff’s gig from the night before, and I watch that, and it would lift me up to where I could be able to work that night for my thing because it to me seemed like he’d moved on,” Clapton explained.

“He’d constantly been moving up a notch all the time every year, and the refinement in his right hand and the independence between the fingers were so phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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