Beck was a self-taught musician who left the engineering world to become a professional player in England. He eventually blossomed into one of Europe's finest studio and session pianists, able to function effectively in many settings and alongside any vocalist or instrumentalist. His father was a violinist, and Beck started his jazz career with various London bands before joining Tubby Hayes in 1962. Beck stayed in that group three years, making his first tours outside England, before beginning his own band. Beck's trio was the house band at the Ronnie Scott's club in the late '60s, and in 1967 Beck began cutting albums and doing studio work. He gained international attention from 1969-1972 as part of Phil Woods' European Rhythm Machine, his strong playing and propulsive solos making him an effective contrasting voice within the group to Woods. The Machine toured America in 1971, and Beck left the following year to start another band, Gyroscope, and also reactivated his trio. He was part of the group Piano Conclave in the early '70s, but became a busy freelancer from 1974 on, working with major stars like Lena Horne, Gary Burton, Clark Terry, Charles Tolliver, and Woods again. He also got involved in education, becoming co-organizer of the Treforest Summer School in 1978.