Inside The Friendship Between Johnny Depp And Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck is a renowned guitarist who was once part of the English rock band, Yardbirds. He left the group after a couple years and formed The Jeff Beck Group in 1967, but they broke up after only a few years. During that time, as noted by All Music, Beck had been in and out of the spotlight, doing collaborations with various artists, and one of his many projects was with actor Johnny Depp.

Depp has been acting since the '80s, but his first love has always been music. In fact, the actor moved to Los Angeles with his band to pursue a career in music, but the gigs didn't pay enough to make a decent living, according to Biography. It was during that time that he pursued acting, and his first big movie role was in Wes Craven's classic slasher film, "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Depp's band broke up in 1985, and he concentrated on his acting career thereafter. Depp is known as a versatile actor who is capable of taking on various characters including Edward Scissorhands, Whitey Bulger, Willy Wonka, Donnie Brasco, and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck collaborated on music

In 2020, Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp released the single "Isolation," which is a cover of John Lennon's 1970 song from his first solo album. As reported by Rolling Stone, Beck and Depp had been collaborating for a few years before the single was released. According to Beck, Depp found it fitting to release the song while people around the world were isolating themselves due to the coronavirus pandemic. An official music video of the song was also released, and it features the duo performing the song in one of the live concerts they played together before the single's official release.

In 2021, The Daily Mail reported that Depp had been spending time with Beck at his studio in Sussex. They worked on songs together, and it was also a way for Depp to step away from the spotlight in Hollywood amid the controversy surrounding his divorce from Amber Heard and her allegations against him. According to the report, Beck served as a great friend to Depp during the challenging time in his life, and their work together allowed the actor to focus on his love for music.

Johnny Depp's surprise appearances at Jeff Beck's concerts

In April 2022, the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial began. The "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor sued his ex-wife for $50 million in a defamation case over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018. Heard countersued for $100 million, claiming that Depp's attorney, Adam Waldman, made defamatory statements against her (via NBC News). The trial was watched by millions all over the world, and it concluded after six weeks on May 27.

While waiting for the jury to give their verdict, Depp made a surprise appearance at Jeff Beck's concert in England where they performed "Isolation" and two other cover songs: Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," as reported by Metro UK. Beck introduced his friend by saying that Depp knocked on his dressing room years ago, and they "haven't stopped laughing since." It's safe to say the friendship between the two goes beyond their music projects.

On June 1, the jury found both Depp and Heard liable for defamation, but Depp was awarded more in damages. He was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 for punitive damages, while Heard was awarded $2 million for compensatory damages and nothing for punitive damages.

Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck's 2022 album

Johnny Depp didn't just dabble in musical spheres or drop by Jeff Beck's performances here and there. The two released an honest-to-goodness full-length album together in 2022, "18." To be clear, this isn't an album where one person is the guest and the other the main musician. Both Beck and Depp are fully credited with every single song on the album, as well as the entire album itself, per streaming services like Spotify

Some tracks on the record, like the aforementioned cover of John Lennon's "Isolation," are sparse, organic, bluesy affairs. Other tracks like "The Death and Resurrection Show" fall into the category of industrial euro-pop more than anything. It's an interesting, eclectic bag that portrays both men and their respective ranges of influences. In fact, Depp and Beck planned on calling the album "Kitchen Sink" because of its range of styles, as AS quotes Beck.

As it stands, Beck and Depp settled on "18" for a title because the album "really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity." On Blabbermouth Beck described exactly how integral Depp was to the record, saying, "I haven't had another creative partner like him for ages," and, "I just hope people will take him seriously as a musician because it's a hard thing for some people to accept that Johnny Depp can sing rock and roll." The two toured in Europe during the summer of 2022 before heading back to the U.S. in the fall.

Johnny Depp was present when Beck died

As Blabbermouth says, Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck grew close over a short period of time. The two met in 2016 and quickly bonded not only over common interests like music, but a shared spirit. Beck noticed Depp's ear for music, and by 2019 they'd begun working on 2022's "18." Loudwire says that the time the two spent touring in 2022 only strengthened their bond. Depp and Beck grew so close, in fact, that Depp was even by Beck's bedside at the moment Beck died. Other musicians were present as well, but there's no mention of specific names. 

People reports that Depp is "devastated" by Beck's death. "It's an extraordinary honor to play and write music with Jeff, one of the true greats and someone I am now privileged enough to call my brother," Depp said at the release of one of "18's" singles, "This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr." Reports say that Beck, who died of bacterial meningitis, deteriorated quickly after contracting the disease only a short time ago. As John Hopkins Medicine explains, bacterial meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. Symptoms are severe, life-threatening, and appear within a matter of hours.

Since Beck died fellow musicians like Rod Steward, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page have paid tribute to the fallen guitarist, per Hello Magazine and Reuters. Beck is survived by his wife Sandra Cash.