Styx’s James ‘J.Y.’ Young on the lasting impact of Jeff Beck: ‘Perhaps the greatest living guitarist, period’

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For James “J.Y.” Young, Jeff Beck has been a constant, standing as an inspiration from his early successes with Styx through to today. In fact, Young calls the former Yardbirds great “perhaps now the greatest living rock-influenced guitarist, period. I saw him last year and that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”

Young followed in Beck’s footsteps, for instance, when he decided to make his first steps away from Styx, almost 30 years ago now. City Slicker, Young’s 1986 solo debut, featured Jan Hammer — echoing the collaborative structure of memorable late-1970s Beck albums like There and Back, Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live and Wired.

“Even my guitar solo in ‘Renegade,'” Young tells Guitar.com, “the opening first 10 or 12 notes is almost a direct lift from something Jeff Beck did somewhere.”

Young says Beck remains a touchstone too, even as Styx’s recording career winds down.

He admits the group, whose last original project was 2003’s Cyclorama, isn’t likely to return to the studio anytime soon. Styx has focused, more recently, on touring — playing more than 110 shows a year. “But still everybody’s got musical ideas,” Young adds. “I’ve got some little riff I came up with that will blow people’s minds, if we ever find a song to go with it.”

And what do you know? “It’s inspired,” Young admits, “by Jeff Beck.”

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