When Jeff Beck met Johnny Depp

Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck passed away aged 78, having spent months in the headlines as a result of his friendship and touring performances with actor Johnny Depp.

It’s been widely reported that Johnny was at Jeff’s bedside as he died peacefully, and although this may not be quite the truth, there’s a lot to be said for their relationship.

© Anne-Marie Forker / Alamy Stock Photo

Jeff hit fame as a member of rock band The Yardbirds and then later The Jeff Beck Group. Ranked as one of the top five guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone, he earned wide critical acclaim and received seven Grammys. He was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: one as a member of The Yardbirds, and once as a solo artist.

Although Johnny rose to fame as a result of his acting (debuting in the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street and going on to become one of the most commercially successful film stars ever in the Pirates of the Caribbean series), he was an eager guitarist prior to this career: and featured on songs with the likes of Oasis, Iggy Pop and Aerosmith.

This shared love of music and a passion for guitars is what brought Jeff and Johnny together, when they were introduced by mutual acquaintances in 2016. Add a similar sense of humour into the mix, and the two kept in touch even when separated by geography. With Jeff in the UK and Johnny based primarily in the US, online connection was critical.

After reuniting in 2019, they embarked on a mutual project of recording an album together. Once it was finished, they decided to name it “18” – a reflection of their relationship. “He came knocking on my dressing room door about five years ago and we haven’t stopped laughing since”, said Jeff in an interview. “He made me feel like we were 18 again”. Featuring 13 tracks, 18 is Jeff’s last album release.

Once Johnny’s highly publicised court case with his ex-wife Amber Heard had concluded, the friends toured and performed the album throughout locations in Europe and the United States; even caught by paparazzi enjoying drinks with fellow musician Sam Fender, before culminating in a moving performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall.


Sadly, Jeff grew ill in the winter of 2021, contracting meningitis. While hospitalised, it is true that Johnny did visit his friend, but the clever wording of tabloid reporting does state that he was with him, “shortly before his death” rather than at the exact time – it is believed that his closest family rallied around him at the time of his passing.

Johnny has yet to publicly comment on the death of his friend, but one thing is for sure: they were certainly close, and this loss will weigh heavily on him for some time to come.

Human connection matters. Wherever physical location might find you, you can still have the important conversations that matter; virtual meetings can make real connections when you can’t be there in person.

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