Anyone who attended Jeff Beck's concert at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on April 22, 2009 knew they were in for a good show. They did not know, however, that they'd witness an incredible reunion between Beck and an iconic rock singer he helped put on the map: Rod Stewart.
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Stewart was a struggling musician in 1967 when he first linked up with the extraordinary guitarist, fresh from The Yardbirds and looking to do something new. Beck's expressive instrumentation and Stewart's one-of-a-kind voice were a powerful combination, whether on rock, blues and soul covers or their own originals, and once a firm line-up had formed - a rhythm guitarist-turned-bassist named Ronnie Wood, drummer Micky Walter and, in 1968, keyboardist Nicky Hopkins - The Jeff Beck Group started to gain notice. Their first two albums, Truth and 1969's Beck-ola, were considerable hits, particularly in America, where both reached the Top 20 on the Billboard charts.
While Stewart and Beck proved to be formidable musical partners, they were never strong friends at the time, and after Beck-ola, in-fighting caused the group to splinter. Stewart inked his first solo contract at the time, but when his friend Wood joined the newly-christened Faces (formed from members of British rockers The Small Faces), Stewart also came into the fold as their lead vocalist. Both Beck and Stewart continued to have incredible careers, albeit ones that rarely intersected.
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That all changed ahead of the El Rey show, when Beck called Stewart asking if he'd like to join him onstage. (Despite the widely-circulated video of Beck feigning shock when Rod takes the mic, it was indeed planned.) The duo joined forces on a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," a Top 5 rock chart hit for them back in 1985, before continuing with a rip-roaring cover of Willie Dixon's "I Ain't Superstitious," which closed Truth more than four decades prior.
And - for whatever reason - the pair walked away a little friendlier than they had been. "It was really fucking great," Rod wrote about soundchecking the special moment in his memoir. "By the end Jeff, bless him, was in tears and we gave each other a big old hug.”
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