VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 3 POSTED ON: 1/18/2011
MEETING THE LEGENDARY JEFF BECK Part I Having been a huge fan of Jeff Beck since I 1977 (when I was 13 years old), I waited in line at the will call window at the Boston Orpheum with great anticipation. Like a dream come true, the backstage passes were enclosed in an envelope with my name on it thanks to Dick Wyzanski and his connections with Jeff’s management. It was March 20,1999, and Spring was in the air. After the show we went down to the basement of the Orpheum to wait for Jeff. Jennifer Batten showed up first, and we had been in contact for a couple months at that point, mostly because of her sister had always idolized Gino Vanelli, and I was able to procure some rare video footage for her (which payed off in spades). After talking to the lovely and most gracious Jennifer Batten for about 10 minutes, Jeff showed up wearing this cool and expensive looking black jacket (he wore the same jacket on Late Night with David Letterman a few nights later), sipping champagne, and seemed quite approachable. Jen already had Jeff sign a glossy 8X10 for me ( “BOB, From Jeff Beck ‘99”),and I was holding it as Jeff approached me: he looked down at the photo he signed and said “Hi Bob” before I said a word to him. I was surprised at how approachable Jeff was on that particular night, so after the usual business of telling him I’d been a fan for over 2 deacdes, and he made a comment “it wasn’t THAT long ago!” Jeff signed a the CD art for “Wired” for me (the coolest album cover in history ,Jen told me Jeff’s gal once showed her the out-take photos for the front/rear of the classic LP) and continued to mingle with the other fans. I was determined to discuss the topic of Roy Buchanan with Jeff ,but I wanted him to circulate with the other waiting fans before I approached him. At the time, I couldn’t remember the source of information pertaining to a statement Buchanan had made (I later remembered it was from a promo interview for a 1980 Waterhouse Records in conjunction with the “MY BABE” LP Roy had released),but I did remember there was a claim made that “Jeff Beck collected my early singles and sidework with other artists in the late 1960s.” I told Jeff I had heard that rumor, and asked him exactly when he had heard of Roy Buchanan for the first time: “I never heard of him until we were right here (meaning Boston,MA) and I was holed up in a hotel room for the night ( due to reported death threats, which he neglected to mention) in the early 1970’s”. He went on to explain “I flipped the TV on, and there was this guy playing guitar, sitting on a rock by the ocean: I thought it was a SHAMPOO commercial!” I was quick to correct Jeff to the fact that Roy was actually playing on the steps of his childhood home in Pixley ,CA ,in front of his Father from the legendary 1971 PBS documentary. “You’ve SEEN it?!” Jeff replied, to which I stated “ I HAVE it!” Would you like a copy? “LOVE one, talk to THAT man right there (pointing to Ralph Baker) and he started chatting with some other fans. I told Jeff I had to drive 4 hours back to Vermont that night “Oh, you POOR baby!” I said I would have peddled my bicycle to see him, and I left him with a joke that I had heard: “What is the difference between a Rolling Stone and a Scot? (Jeff looked up with anticipation for the punch line) “A Rolling Stone says HEY YOU GET OFF MY CLOUD” A Scot says “HEY MCLOUD,GET OFF MY EWE!” Jeff gave a hearty laugh and clapped his hands together! The Roy B. VHS tape I sent Jeff made for some cool future conversation, particularly the ’72 Mahavishnu Orchestra BBC In Concert I added for fill! MEETING THE LEGENDARY JEFF BECK part II Since the March 20,1999 meeting, Jeff had toured the U.S. and then took a break before going to Japan in May 1999. In an e-mail from Jennifer, she told me “ Jeff flipped out over the Mahavishnu you sent him at the end of the Roy Buchanan film” and she added “he is talking about possibly getting Jan Hammer back out on the road again.” I just about crapped my pants when she told me that! I told her “you mean I am the one responsible for a possible Jeff/Jan reunion?!” to which she replied “I think it is just TALK.” Jan did end up touring with Jeff in 2004, and I like to believe I had something to do with lighting the flame under Jeff’s ass! A post card from Japan showed up weeks later with a note from Jennifer: “Thanks for the kickin’ Buchanan & Mahavishnu video!” signed….Jennifer Batten (and to my utter delight, I peeled back the coded postal sticker on the post card to reveal “Jeff Beck” also signed it). August 21,1999 found us at the gigantic Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. Having already paid up for crappy seats, I was shocked to see 2 complimentary seats along with the backstage pass at the will call window, and the seats were 100 times better than the ones we bought. Jonny Lang opened the show and Jeff gave a relatively standard performance that night, and there was a reason for that. The tour bus drove all night from North Carolina to Mansfield,MA, and Jen told me they were up late the night before getting drunk with members of the original BLUE CAPS (of GENE VINCENT & THE BLUE CAPS). Pressure from Jeff’s management was also being rumored during the Summer leg of the 1999 tour: they were playing the same songs in the same geographical area 5 months later, and ticket sales were slumping, as if this was Jeff’s fault. All internet reports were stating Jeff was not attending ANY after show events during the Summer leg of the tour,and I knew that going in. Still, I hoped for another chance to meet Jeff so that he could autograph a 1978 Jeff Beck/Stanley Clarke Japan tour poster that Stanley Clarke had already autographed for me. Jennifer showed up and talked to us for about 15 minutes and saw I was holding the 1978 Japan tour poster, and thought it was cool that Stanley had already signed it for me. She seemed apologetic that Jeff was tucked away in the dressing room while the courtside outdoor party was waiting for the man to make an appearance. She took my poster and brought it to the dressing room, and Jeff had taken a bold sharpie and signed his name with a ridiculous long arrow that pointed to his Stratocaster. I looked at the poster and she said “He wanted to put the arrow on there so you would know which one Jeff Beck was in the picture!” Feeling like she let me down, Jennifer physically grabbed Jeff’s arm and pulled the reluctanct guitar slinger out of the dressing room and out to the courtyard…”Jeff, THIS is the guy that sent us the Buchanan and Mahavishnu video” and he came over to shake my hand. Jeff had clearly downed a few drinks (or more) and was not as approachable as our first cordial meeting. I told him that I really missed Roy Buchanan, and he looked down and said “yeahh” but perked up when I told him that Stanley Clarke was still saying great things about him. “Stanley Clarke, I need to look him up on the web (types on an imaginary keyboard)” and bows to his picture on the poster….”how the hell did you get THIS poster?” he asked, but wasn’t really interested in my answer. Jeff signed a copy of WHO ELSE for my friend, who said it was for his son who was home sick with the chicken pox: Jeff was sympathetic, and wanted know how old he was, and when my friend said he was 14 and listened to WHO ELSE and really liked it, Jeff was thrilled “14 years old,PERFECT!”. An aged blonde singer who once did a track with John Entwistle was all over Jeff like a cheap suit, and quickly monopolized his attention, so the meeting was over pretty quickly. Weeks later my friend Kevin met Jeff outside the Victoria,B.C. gig and asked him what he was listening to these days….Jeff’s reply: “MAHAVISHNU!” MEETING THE LEGENDARY JEFF BECK part III “La Fortsa Del Destino” ,the power of FATE! Jeff was back in Boston at the Orpheum on the magical date of March 20th,once again, but in 2001 this time around (in support of YOU HAD IT COMING), and Jennifer Batten made sure complimentary 7th row center seats were waiting for us with the backstage passes, and we really felt spoiled. Hanging out in the lobby, I saw the legendary Boston Bluesman Ronnie Earl and told him how much I had enjoyed his shows in Vermont. “Vermont? What are you doing all the way down HERE?!” “Same thing you are doing Ronnie, I’m here to see JEFF BECK!” to which he smiled and nodded. The backstage scene had changed this time: way too many people hanging out in a small area, including a gaggle of Japanese girls that couldn’t speak a word of English, all wanting to mug with Jeff for photos. I noticed Ronnie Earl’s longtime former Broadcasters bassist, Rod “Big Daddy” Carey and drummer extraordinaire, Per Hansen were part of the crowd . Big Daddy seemed genuinely gratified when I told him that he and Per were sorely missed, and that Ronnie’s 1999 band wasn’t even knee level to their level of rapport and performance when they were with the band. Knowing Jeff had been a fan of THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE, I brought a wooded Thomas toy train from my 5 year old’s collection for Jeff to sign. Jeff’s eyes lit up, but I had a feeling it was because he thought it was gift for him and not something a fan would normally have him sign (like an ample bosom!). “Me Mum used to buy the books for me when I was a tot….Reverend Awdry,right?” Indeed, Reverend Awdry wrote those classic British books of Thomas The Tank Engine back in the 1940’s. Jeff put the initials “J.B.” on the wooden toy and handed it back to me. My buddy amazed Jeff with a 1966 Yardbirds fanzine which he autographed for him. The mob scene was too much for me by the time Jeff spent a minute with us, so it was a short meeting this time, and a long trip back home.