“He was always doing these things that guitars were forbidden from doing”: Steve Hackett on Jeff Beck’s “naughty” playing

The guitarist also admits to having the late Beck on his mind while using a tremolo bridge in his own songs.

Jeff beck and Steve Hackett

Image: Rick Kern / Steve Jennings / Getty Images

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Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett has spoken about the great Jeff Beck’s “naughty” guitar playing and its influence on his own music.

In the latest episode of the Now Spinning Magazine podcast, Hackett – whose new album The Circus and The Nightwhale arrives this later month – tells host Phil Aston [via Killer Guitar Rigs]: “I was affected quite profoundly by the death of Jeff Beck, who I am such a huge fan of.”

“And I noticed on one of the things they put up on YouTube that he’d always considered himself to be ‘naughty,’ which is a word that you would use for a child. But if there’s a naughtiness in it, he was constructively always doing these things that guitars were forbidden from doing, or no one had tried it out.”

“So I understand the use of the word and, and as I was playing – as ever – I was thinking, ‘Is this a tone that he would have liked? Would he have approved this use of a tremolo arm?’ Because obviously, he was the king of tremolo arms,” says Hackett.

“And in terms of someone tonally, totally in control of his instrument – or so it seemed to the rest of us. That use of clean-one-minute, distorted-the-next whammy bar – not the volume pedal, but the volume pot on the guitar – quite a juggling act, all of that.”

Of the late guitar legend’s influence, Hackett concludes: “So, yeah, I felt I was paying homage, if not channelling, and thinking, ‘I hope this is worthy of what he has shown us that guitars can do.’”

Elsewhere in the chat, the guitarist also explained his songwriting process, saying that for him, “songs evolve” and that they “don’t usually appear chronologically”.

“It’s a little bit like borrowing a leaf out of something John Lennon said. He said ‘you have ideas, you join them up later.’ That’s as much of a pointer as you’ll ever get in terms of how to write a great tune from the master’s pen.”


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