A Tribute to Jeff Becker, A Great Guitar Teacher

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NDB

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Jun 28, 2002, 4:10:15 PM6/28/02
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Dear Group Members,

My guitar teacher that I studied with from when I was 10 to 20 died this
week at the young age of 53. His name was Jeff Becker, and he taught in
Morris Plains, NJ. He always taught me that I should never look at music
(well, Western Music) as "country" or "jazz" or "classical". There were 12
notes, that's it, and throughout the thousands of albums that I heard in my
life, he told me I wouldn't find any others, so there was no reason to be
intimidated by the labels. This approach also informed the music he exposed
me to. Even though I became interested in "Jazz" by my late teens, he
played every kind of music and guitar solo for me and he loved them all. I
remember learning the solos to "Eruption", "Crossroads", and "Aja" in
between learning songs like the "Girl from Ipanema", "Stella by Starlight",
etc. He was a fabulous guitar player, but more importantly, a virtuostic
teacher. I couldn't digest a lot of what he taught me at such a young age,
because although I had raw talent, I didn't have the discipline to learn the
modes of melodic minor, or understand why I needed to know more than one
voicing of a major seventh chord. I still refer to his diagrams, charts,
and notes now, and they are on par with any book or teaching materials I've
ever had since. I had sent him my CD that I finished back in December, and
I thanked him in the liner notes, but I'm so sad I never got a chance to
tell him in person how much his teachings meant to me. I hope all of you
will remember some of your teachers and how much of a difference they've
made in your lives. And if you are a teacher, like many of you who so
generously give of your time and wisdom here on this newsgroup, thank you.

Best Regards,

Nenshad Bardoliwalla


--

*************************************************
Have a listen to my virtual jazz quartet at:
Cosmic Contamination Records, Inc.
http://www.cosmiccontamination.com

*************************************************


eddie.s...@gmail.com

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Jan 8, 2015, 9:56:13 AM1/8/15
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I knew Jeff quite well, ended up going to his teacher Joe Cinderella then Bucky Pizzerelli and followed Jeffs footsteps to William Paterson and all the teachers there. do you have any recordings or pics of Jeff? I have some and I think they are all that exists, there was a 16 track recording of his band but even his brother and other close friends don't know what happened to it, I have an old beat up cassette of a rehearsal they did in the 70's but that's it. Eddie

Gerry

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Jan 8, 2015, 12:12:42 PM1/8/15
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On 2015-01-08 14:56:09 +0000, eddie.s...@gmail.com said:

> On Friday, June 28, 2002 4:09:31 PM UTC-4, NDB wrote:
>> Dear Group Members,
>>
>> My guitar teacher that I studied with from when I was 10 to 20 died this
>> week at the young age of 53. His name was Jeff Becker, and he taught in
>> Morris Plains, NJ.

[snip]

> I knew Jeff quite well, ended up going to his teacher Joe Cinderella
> then Bucky Pizzerelli and followed Jeffs footsteps to William Paterson
> and all the teachers there. do you have any recordings or pics of Jeff?
> I have some and I think they are all that exists, there was a 16 track
> recording of his band but even his brother and other close friends
> don't know what happened to it, I have an old beat up cassette of a
> rehearsal they did in the 70's but that's it. Eddie

Welcome to the newsgroup, Eddie. Nenshad Bardoliwalla posted that
message twelve years ago. I sincerely doubt he'll be answering your
post. Just a guess, but the newsgroup has shrunk a good deal over the
last five years or so.
--
Sunday is my new usenet day. All the others are for fun.

tdenn...@gvpub.com

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Jan 15, 2015, 1:13:40 PM1/15/15
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I'll answer. I studied with Jeff Becker too. Very saddened to belatedly hear this news.

robz...@aol.com

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Aug 21, 2015, 2:10:12 AM8/21/15
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Hello Group,

My name is Rob and I stumbled upon this post about an hour ago!!! i AM Jeff Becker's nephew (my mom is his sister!!!) I thank everyone for all your kinds words about him as he was a very loving and caring person/uncle to his family, friends and his students and is GREATLY MISSED!!! He passed away on June 25, 2002 at the young age of 53 from lung cancer!!! When my uncle Jeff was younger, he and his brother (my other uncle) formed his own band called Headstrong, i believe in the 1970's and played in many gigs over the years!!! I obviously have pictures and videos of him!!! I will have to go through them someday and maybe post a picture on here for you all to see!!!

~Rob

Mr. Maj6th

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Aug 21, 2015, 3:30:30 AM8/21/15
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Great post Rob!

Maj6th

Nenshad Bardoliwalla

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Aug 22, 2015, 10:09:59 AM8/22/15
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Thanks for a wonderful post, Rob. Your uncle was an amazing man who I still see in my dreams some times. He had such an impact on my life, and I still miss him.

timothy...@gmail.com

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Sep 12, 2015, 9:24:53 AM9/12/15
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I also had the privilege of knowing, and studying under Jeff. My time with him was in Florham Park NJ. Tremendous teacher and great guy. He was patient but disciplined. Insisted on nothing less than excellence, and always wanted to push the envelope in opening my mind to different types of music including soulful and jazz interpretations of various songs. That open minded approach ("music is a performing art, Tim...always remember that") would help me later as I started playing club dates in soul, funk, top 40 standards, then back to NJ rock hair band circuit. I came by to see him in Morris Plains, and he was still full of fire and we had a fantastic time together, and I learned about his latest musical tastes (and great Stratocaster collection). Although I was not aware of his early demise, if there is any consolation in this, it is that there must be many like me who had the passion for music, and uncompromising desire for perfecting this art form ignited by Jeff. Who remember Jeff and whose lives were profoundly touched by knowing him.

Tim McNamara

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Sep 12, 2015, 9:28:53 PM9/12/15
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Reminds me of my main guitar teacher, a cat named Bill Ebert with whom I
stuied in college and for about 4 years after. He had the knack of
pointing out your deficiencies while simultaeously boosting your
confidence. Bill introduced me to jazz guitar.

About 25 years after I had studied with him, I stopped in to see him and
of course we broke out the guitars and jammed. He used to just kick my
ass in lessons and jam sessions. After 25 years... he kicked my ass
again. I was much better than I was back when I was taking lessons, but
he was 25 years better too! LOL!

Bill did more than teach me stuff on guitar. He taught me how to teach
myself and he taught me about living life. And 35 years after my first
lesson with him (wow, it's really been that long? Yep, it has. WTF
happened to those years?), Bill is still teaching actively and imparting
his musical and life wisdom to another generation of students. I hope
they have something of value added to their lives as well, as I have,
from their study of music. I can barely articulate how my life has been
enhanced by this.

Over the years some of the most important things I have learned from
older musicians have nothing to do with music, at least not directly.
Lessons about how to live with dedication, with a sense of exploration,
with open mindedness and shrinking risk down to size. So I screw up, I
drop a clam, so what? If you're going to take chances, that's going to
happen. Move on... We cannot repay the debt to our mentors, we owe
them more than we can give them. Our only hope of squaring up is to
pass on those things to the next generation.

OK, I'm all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves for a couple minutes.

jennifer...@morristownhighschool.org

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Oct 6, 2015, 10:37:56 AM10/6/15
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On Friday, June 28, 2002 at 4:10:15 PM UTC-4, NDB wrote:
I knew Jeff also, studied under him, what happened to him? I'm so saddened to find out he's no longer with us.

jjbarr...@gmail.com

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Oct 20, 2015, 1:17:05 AM10/20/15
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I studied with Jeff too. I know he died a long time ago but I'm still remembering him now.

jjbarr...@gmail.com

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Oct 20, 2015, 1:26:49 AM10/20/15
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He was my teacher in the mid 1980s
Message has been deleted

robz...@aol.com

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Oct 18, 2016, 7:55:13 PM10/18/16
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Hello again everyone!!!

I hope everyone is doing good!!! I'm sorry it took along time to respond back but here I am LOL!!! I would like to thank everyone for the very kind words you said towards myself and my uncle Jeff!!! My uncle Jeff is missed sooo very much!!! You'll have to excuse me as I dont normally write on these google posts!!! I'm still trying to learn these google posts!!! I'm going to go through some pics now and i'll see if i can post a few so you all can see!!!


~Rob

creativec...@gmail.com

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Nov 4, 2016, 7:58:13 AM11/4/16
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I just came upon this post this morning and am sorry to hear Jeff has passed.
After a great jam session last night, I got to thinking I owe a lot of my technique and guitar foundation to Jeff. I currently play in a funk band, and was recently complimented on my right hand style. That, I owe to Jeff.
I took guitar lessons from Jeff when I was in high school in the early 80's. I was a newby and just starting out. Like others, I was young, and didn't have the focus or discipline to learn all that Jeff threw at me, but I do remember him emphasizing the importance of the right hand. He told me to take a pick to school, and practice my picking, timing, and strum on my pant leg while in class. Gotta love it!!
I also remember Jeff teaching music in numbers and the "mathematical" way of looking at notes - which paved a way for easier comprehension.
After about 3 months of lessons, Jeff and I figured out he grew up only 4 houses away from me on Jeffrie Trail in Whippany, and his parents were still my neighbors. Funny.
Anyway - yes lots of memories of that studio above the restaurant in Morris Plains. Jeff's guitar collection, his stone guitar, the mixing board he said used to be owned by Pink Floyd, and the Headstrong Banner (or poster?) flying high.
Unfortunately, I never got to say thanks - but I definitely have gratitude.
Thanks for all your memories!!
Steve

kevin.o...@gmail.com

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May 12, 2017, 1:12:24 PM5/12/17
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This sounds like my story too. Can some tech-minded party put up a Facebook page, and we can share our memories there?

carting...@gmail.com

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Aug 2, 2018, 7:20:47 PM8/2/18
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Jeff taught me bass in the 80s & early 90s. Jeff was the definition of zen. Such a calm, connected guy. I'd love to see any photos or music his nephew has. Anyone remember how he answered the phone? Same cadence and tone every time, like he was holding in a big hit....."GI-tar studio". Sad to hear of his passing at such a young age.

paul23s...@gmail.com

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Nov 1, 2019, 10:58:18 PM11/1/19
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I studied under Jeff for about 10 years first at Universal Music in Florham Park, then at his parents house in Whippany and finally above Ronnie's Deli in Morris Plains NJ. Probably 1971 to 1981 or so. He taught me some of the greatest instrumental songs of the 1950's and 60's (Ventures and others). I put down the guitar for 25 years - raising a family and having a job - and only recently started playing again. A lot has come back. I just googled him today - how sad he died so young - I am older than that now.

dulce...@gmail.com

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Feb 18, 2020, 8:23:45 PM2/18/20
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I and my brother were also students of Jeff, my time being perhaps 1976-1978 at age 13-15. He was super cool and able. I just was not ready to entirely absorb what he had to offer, but he totally did his best.

I can say two things. I set aside the guitar for about 4 years while I was in high school, disgusted that I was not able to learn music by ear. One day I took my guitar out from under the bed, and looked at notes which I had written years before during a lesson with Jeff, and looked at them and understood that I had written them without really knowing what was being conveyed to me. But with a slightly older eye I looked at them and I suddenly understood that there were three major chords that could be used together within a key and there were three chords and a related minor key, etc, and I struck an A7th chord and heard in my mind "well shake it up baby now". I looked at those old handwritten notes, and I suddenly really understood them. Over the next 10 minutes, I taught myself to play "Twist and Shout", and doors opened for me. Jeff had given me everything I needed to know.

I've had so much fun with the guitar the past 40 years. Thank you, Jeff Becker. My sincerest, very belated condolences to his family and to my fellow students.

Tony Lovell

thow...@gmail.com

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May 25, 2020, 12:13:52 PM5/25/20
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Crazy reading this in 2020. I was a student of Jeffs for a year maybe year and a half right up to the end when he was teaching out of his home. Although I was only able to study with him for a short time his impact on my view of guitar and music in general. After he passed I kind of lost direction in my playing and was stuck in a rut for a long time. Recently I have really been making a push to really learn again and find that all the you tube videos in the world can not match Jeffs lessons, his patients and ability to make you understand was unmatched. I thought all the notes and everything were lost in a move but just last week found out that my mom has all of them (she was a student as well). I will always remember being in his basement waiting room complete with massive stacks of guitar magazines and a Headstrong poster on the wall. Truly an inspirational teacher and great guy. I'm glad to see his legacy lives on with so many people.

paul23s...@gmail.com

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May 26, 2020, 11:06:09 PM5/26/20
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I was probably one of his earliest students I think he was recording in Philly with Headstrong - he was probably 22 or so when I started taking lessons in 1971 - I was 10. Before I left for college I expanded my half hour lesson to an hour for a year or so. I returned one summer and took lessens too - he got mad at me for not being prepared (lack of practice that week), so I stopped the lessons. I moved out of the area in the 1980's after college, but my parents still live near by - I drove by his old studio above Ronnie's deli in the 1990's and his sign was gone. I'm glad he was still teaching at that point. I too have my notes from Jeff Becker - written on the backs of some scraps of paper or vellum - they are 40 to 45 years old. I recently bought a a real amp having, sold my Music Man monster 25 years ago. I think of him sometimes when I pick up the guitar. Having taken a 25+ year pause, I now try to play every day. Pure joy!!

Kevin O'Brien

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Aug 31, 2021, 7:03:06 AM8/31/21
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On Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 11:06:09 PM UTC-4, paul23s...@gmail.com wrote:
> I was probably one of his earliest students I think he was recording in Philly with Headstrong - he was probably 22 or so when I started taking lessons in 1971 - I was 10. Before I left for college I expanded my half hour lesson to an hour for a year or so. I returned one summer and took lessens too - he got mad at me for not being prepared (lack of practice that week), so I stopped the lessons. I moved out of the area in the 1980's after college, but my parents still live near by - I drove by his old studio above Ronnie's deli in the 1990's and his sign was gone. I'm glad he was still teaching at that point. I too have my notes from Jeff Becker - written on the backs of some scraps of paper or vellum - they are 40 to 45 years old. I recently bought a a real amp having, sold my Music Man monster 25 years ago. I think of him sometimes when I pick up the guitar. Having taken a 25+ year pause, I now try to play every day. Pure joy!!
Does anyone ever dream about Jeff? I still do sometimes.

Tom Esposito

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Mar 16, 2022, 10:53:08 AMMar 16
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Hi Rob I was a student of your uncle and went to see Headstrong once ,did you ever go through those pics or tapes , would love to see or hear. Thanks

gtr

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Mar 17, 2022, 11:01:00 PMMar 17
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That jpost is from seven years ago, Tom. I recommend sending your email
directlly to his aol address, if you can see the full email address.
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