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Joe Beck: 1945-2008
Joe Beck

Born: July 29, 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: July 22, 2008 in Woodbury, Connecticut

Pioneering Jazz-Rock Guitarist

Copyright © 2008 

Originally attracted to classical guitar at the age of five, Philadelphia native Joe Beck rose to prominence as one of the first jazz-rock guitarists when Miles Davis recruited him to play on one of his first forays into amplified music in 1967. Beck died at age 62 from lung cancer.

Taught by his mother and a professional by the age of 13, Beck moved to New York City after high school and worked with a succession of bandleaders, including Charles Lloyd, Gary McFarland, Chico Hamilton and Paul Winter in the 1960s. A member of Gil Evans' orchestra, in December 1967 he joined Davis in the studio to record two long tracks: "Circle In The Round" and "Water On The Pond," neither of which was released until years later. After several years with Evans -- during which time he also recorded with Bobby Timmons, Kai Winding and Brother Jack McDuff -- Beck retreated from music to become a dairy farmer in 1971.

Beck returned to the jazz scene in 1973, working extensively with Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Joe Farrell and Maynard Ferguson. From 1975, he worked in duos with Red Mitchell and Attila Zoller.

Although he returned to farming in 1988, Beck remained musically active, producing instructional videos and websites for instrument manufacturers. His last album, Coincidence -- released in 2008 -- featured duets with guitarist John Abercrombie.

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