Watch Jeff Beck (RIP) Smash His Guitar: A Basic Scene from Antonioni’s Blowup (1966)

Be aware: With the passing of Jeff Beck, we’re bringing again a classic submit from our archive that includes the early years of the legendary guitarist. You’ll be able to learn his obituary right here.

Artwork movie and rock and roll have, for the reason that 60s, been soulmates of a form, with many an acclaimed director turning to musicians as actors, commissioning rock stars as soundtrack artists, and filming scenes with bands. Earlier than Nicolas Roeg, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese and different rock-loving auteurs did the entire above, there was Michelangelo Antonioni, who barreled into the English-language market, underneath contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with a trilogy of movies steeped within the sights and sounds of sixties counterculture.

Blowup, the primary and by far the perfect of those, although scored by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, prominently featured the Yardbirds—with each Jimmy Web page and Jeff Beck. Within the memorable scene above, Beck smashes his guitar to bits after his amp goes on the fritz. The Italian director “envisioned a scene just like that of Pete Townshend’s well-known ritual of smashing his guitar on stage,” notes Guitarworld’s Jonathan Graham. “Antonioni had even requested The Who to look within the movie,” however they refused.

In stepped the Yardbirds, throughout a pivotal second of their profession. The 12 months earlier than, they launched mega-hit “For Your Love,” and stated goodbye to guide guitarist Eric Clapton. Beck, his substitute, heralded a a lot wilder, extra experimental section for the band. Jeff Beck, it appeared, may play something, however what he didn’t do a lot of onstage is emote. Subsequent to the guitar-smashing Townshend or the fire-setting Hendrix (see each beneath), he was a reasonably reserved performer, although no much less thrilling to look at for his virtuosity and elegance.

However as he tells it, Antonioni wouldn’t let the band do their “most fun factor,” a canopy of “Smokestack Lightning” that “had this unbelievable buildup within the center which was simply pow!” That second would have been the pure pretext for a superb guitar smashing.

As a substitute, the set piece with the damaged amp offers the introverted Beck a motive to get agitated. As Graham describes it, he additionally performed a guitar specifically designated as a prop:

As a result of points over publishing, the Yardbirds traditional “Prepare Saved A-Rollin’,” was reworked as “Stroll On” for the efficiency, and because the scene concerned the destruction of an instrument, Beck’s standard alternative of his iconic Esquire or Les Paul was swapped for an inexpensive, hollow-body stand-in that he was directed to smash on the tune’s conclusion.

The scene is extra a tantrum than the orgiastic onstage freak-out Townshend would most likely have delivered. Its chief advantage for Yardbird’s followers lies not within the humorous, out-of-character second (which SF Gate movie critic Mick LaSalle calls “one of many weirdest scenes within the film”). Moderately, it was “the possibility,” as one fan tells LaSalle, “within the days earlier than MTV and YouTube, to see the Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Web page.” Antonioni had seized the second. Along with firing “the opening salvo of the rising ‘movie era,’” as Roger Ebert wrote, he gave up to date followers a motive (along with specific intercourse and nudity), to go see Blowup many times.

Associated Content material:

The “Misplaced” Pink Floyd Soundtrack for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Solely American Movie, Zabriskie Level (1970)

13-12 months-Previous Jimmy Web page Performs Guitar on TV in 1957, an Early Second in His Spectacular Profession

Jim Jarmusch: The Artwork of the Music in His Movies

Josh Jones is a author and musician based mostly in Durham, NC. Observe him at @jdmagness

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