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Guitar gods, back together at the crossroads

Jeff Beck is born outside London, June of 1944; ditto Eric Clapton in March, 1945. Both aspiring guitarists attend art school. Clapton joins the Yardbirds in 1963, quitting in 1965 because of the band's musical direction. He's replaced by Beck, who quits in 1967 for similar reasons. Clapton forms the blues-rock group Cream; Beck forms the blues-rocking Jeff Beck Group.

Post-Cream, Clapton develops a taste for Americana. With Derek and the Dominos, in 1970 he releases the southern-rock and blues classic Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, thought to be his finest musical moment.

Post-Jeff Beck Group, Beck develops a taste for jazz fusion. His first solo album, 1975's Blow by Blow, is an instrumental-rock classic, considered to be his finest musical moment.

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During the 1980s and 90s, Clapton collaborates with Phil Collins, makes beer-commercial soundtrack music, achieves pop success, discovers Savile Row suits, and has a adult-mainstream hit with the sappy Unplugged disc.

During the 1980s and 90s, Beck, the prototypical guitar star, works as a hired gun, popping up on recordings by Mick Jagger, Roger Waters, and Jon Bon Jovi. His own albums, including Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop from 1989, are not usually successful critically or commercially.

In February, 2009, Clapton and Beck perform a pair of concerts in Japan, headlining a major arena show for the first time. The shows are a success, and now Rolling Stone magazine's fourth-ranked guitarist (Clapton) and No. 14 (Beck) reprise the experience for four upcoming concerts, including throw-downs at Toronto's Air Canada Centre (Sunday) and Montreal's Bell Centre (Monday).

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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