Twisted Sister Guitarist: ’Jimmy Page Got Worse’ Over Time but Is ’Okay Today,’ Clapton ’Didn’t Change Much’

Jay Jay French, guitarist of Twisted Sister, was recently asked to share his opinion on Jeff Beck during his interview with The Metal Voice. But when asked about Jeff, who passed away on January 10, French also shared his views on Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, explaining how Beck was always more innovative that the two. When asked about the late guitarist, French replied (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“Having witnessed all that stuff and realizing that then Beck goes on and develops this incredible style of guitar playing over the next 50 years… Jimi’s is dead and [Beck] developed, Jimmy didn’t have the luxury of developing.

“Eric [Clapton] didn’t change much, Eric stayed the same. Jimmy Page got worse as time went on, sloppier, eventually straightened himself out and I guess he’s okay today.

However, Jay Jay French has nothing but respect towards Clapton and Page and this was in no way a jab. After all, the two have made an immeasurable impact on not just the guitar but modern music as a whole. He continued:

“And by the way, I’m not knocking these people. These were my heroes. You think of the greatest guitar players though, the ones who, when you hear them, you know who they are.

“Not just that they’re technically great, but you know who they are. So you can add to this list if you want, but [these are] the guitar players that I know, when I hear [them], I’ll tell you who it is.

Jeff Beck - Behind The Veil

To further explain his position on the matter, Jay Jay also mentioned a few other big names, including B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, explaining how important it is to sound unique. He added:

“BB King. No one plays like BB King. Leslie West. No one sounds like Leslie West. Carlos Santana. Nobody sounds like Carlos Santana. Jimi Hendrix. Nobody sounds like Jimi Hendrix. Jeff Beck. Nobody sounds like Jeff Beck.

The Best Live Perform Ever!!! Jeff Beck - Beck's Bolero | HD

On the other hand, although incredibly influential, someone like Eric Clapton stuck to the old ways and, eventually, became one of many guitar players that tend to sound alike. French explained:

“When you get to Eric Clapton, there’s a million guys that play like that. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa – like a million of them. And that doesn’t take away [from] how great they are.”

“It’s just that they don’t necessarily imbue their personality through the fretboard [in an] individual way. But you know, that’s just my opinion. So you may have a feeling of other guitar players… Eddie Van Halen, I can always tell Eddie.”

Eric Clapton - Black Magic Woman | The Lady In The Balcony: Lockdown Sessions

Twisted Sister, who had their last live performance back in 2016, have announced a one-off reunion show recently. Officially retired from touring, the band will get back together to play at their Metal Hall of Fame induction which takes place on January 26. They will be inducted by none other than guitar virtuoso Steve Vai and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy.

Speaking of which, it’s Mike Portnoy who will be filling in on the drums, taking the spot that once belonged to the late AJ Pero. Portnoy, who has also played with the band on their farewell tour, recently said in an interview:

“We’ve known that we’re playing for months now. I think it was only kind of made public [a few days ago].”

“Steve Vai and myself are inducting them into this Metal Hall Of Fame, and then we’ll be performing a few songs there at the ceremony.”

TWISTED SISTER - Full Set Performance - Bloodstock 2016

The news of Jeff Beck’s passing was shared through his social media channels on January 11. The representative in Jeff’s name said that the guitarist died a day before, on January 10. The full statement reads:

“On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing. After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday. His family ask[s] for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”

Of course, plenty of rock guitar legends shared their tributes through official social media profiles. Among them was also Ozzy Osbourne, who had Jeff play on the title track of his latest album “Patient Number 9.” The Prince of Darkness wrote:

“I can’t express how saddened I am to hear of @JeffBeckMusic’s passing.  What a terrible loss for his family, friends & his many fans. It was such an honor to have known Jeff & an incredible honor to have had him play on my most recent album, #PatientNumber9. Long live #JeffBeck”

Ozzy Osbourne - Patient Number 9 (Official Music Video) ft. Jeff Beck

Ozzy’s Black Sabbath bandmate and the godfather of heavy metal Tony Iommi wrote:

“I was totally shocked to hear the very sad news of Jeff Beck’s passing. Jeff was such a nice person and an outstanding iconic, genius guitar player – there will never be another Jeff Beck. His playing was very special & distinctively brilliant! He will be missed. RIP Jeff”

Blues rock veteran Bernie Marsden, best-known as the original guitarist for David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, said:

“It’s with great sadness I post this photo. I first saw Jeff when my band opened for the Jeff Beck Group in 1968. After that I soon realised his sheer genius, a genius that continued for all his life. Now he’s gone, the best of the best. I’m devastated.“

Jeff Beck Live | Little Wing - The Capitol Theatre 10/8/2022

“I was fortunate that we became quite close, especially when the great drummer Jimmy Copley died in 2017. Jeff produced & played with Jim’s band Upp. We were regular hospital visitors & bonded in our anxieties over our dear friend. Tonight I’m raising a glass to him, Jimmy & Cozy.“

“He always warmly welcomed me at his gigs over the years, as interested in my car as he was guitars, he was very funny to hang out with and easy to be around, which is perhaps different to what his image suggested – he loved that. My deep condolences to his wife Sandra.“

Photos: Alfred Nitsch (20140802-345-See-Rock Festival 2014-Twisted Sister-John „Jay Jay“ French), Jim Summaria (JimmyPage2), Raph_PH (Eric Clapton – Royal Albert Hall – Wednesday 24th May 2017 EricClaptonRAH240517-30 (34987232355) (cropped))

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

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