Jeff Beck to Perform Les Paul Tribute at Michigan Theater

Mar 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Art and Entertainment

Guitar legend Jeff Beck and the Imelda May Band will perform a tribute to electric guitar pioneer Les Paul at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater on Thursday March 31, 2011. Paul, whom Beck inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, died in 2009 at the age of 94.

E66 Les Paul 295x300 Jeff Beck to Perform Les Paul Tribute at Michigan Theater

Les Paul Live at Iridium Jazz Club in NYC, October 2008. Photo by Thomas Faivre-Duboz

Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915, Paul began playing music at the age of eight. During the 1930s he played jazz guitar and began experimenting with different guitar designs, which led him to develop early models of the solid-body electric guitar. After backing up acts like Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters during World War II, he hosted his own radio and TV shows with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s. Paul became famous for pioneering many technical techniques, including overdubbing, delay effects, phasing effects, and multitrack recording, along with playing techniques such as licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques, and timing.

Paul’s Gibson Les Paul guitar design was popularized in the 1960s by Eric Clapton, who was Beck’s predecessor in the influential band the Yardbirds. Clapton, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, and Beck all emerged from the Yardbirds and are ranked by Rolling Stone among the top 15 rock guitarists of all time. All three pioneered the mixture of rock and blues guitar styles, with Page and Beck channeling blues influence into what became heavy metal.

E65 Jeff Beck EnmoreTheatre 300x199 Jeff Beck to Perform Les Paul Tribute at Michigan Theater

Jeff Beck at Enmore Theatre. Photo by Mandy Hall

Beck, born in England in 1944, first heard Paul’s guitar playing on the radio at the age of 6, and was fascinated by the strange sounds. As a teenager he began experimenting with his own guitar designs. At that time his sister introduced him to Jimmy Page, who recommended him to replace Clapton when Clapton left the Yardbirds in 1965. After two years Beck scored success in the UK as a solo artist and formed the Jeff Beck Group, which included Rod Stewart. Beck began to gain a reputation in the US in 1968 for seminal albums which mixed rock and blues into an early version of heavy metal. Band breakups and a car crash made his subsequent work sporadic, but he consistently introduced an innovative sound whenever he played, incorporating r&b, jazz, and soul into his guitar style. In addition to his own work, he helped advance the careers of other stars, such as Stewart, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and Jan Hammer. He rejoined Page briefly in 1985 to score top-5 success with the short-lived band the Honeydrippers. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1992 as a member of the Yardbirds and in 2009 as a solo artist, receiving his induction from Jimmy Page. He has continued to win Grammys regularly into 2011.

Beck and Paul came to know each other well during the last decades of Paul’s life, when they often met at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. Beck’s Michigan Theater tribute to Paul is part of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Party mini-tour he and the May Band are performing for a limited time until Beck rejoins his regular band in April. Beck and the May Band previously performed a tribute to Paul last year at the Iridium jazz club in New York City, where Paul had performed weekly for 14 years before his death. The tribute was recorded and released in February under the title Rock ‘n’ Roll Party.

The show will be the latest in the Michigan Theater’s Legends of Rock & Roll concerts. Previous concerts have featured such stars as B.B. King, Little Richard, Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, Dave Mason, Leon Russell, Carly Simon, and Bonnie Raitt.

The concert will be held at the Michigan Theater, 603 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor on Thursday, March 31 at 8 pm. Tickets cost $35, $75, or $85. Tickets can be purchased from the Ticketmaster website and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

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