RIP Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, 1950-2017

Walter Becker, 1950-2017

RIP Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, 1950-2017

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Multiple reports have stated Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker has died, 1950-2017. According to his official website, Becker passed away early September 3rd, 2017.

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen in the 1970s

Becker formed Steely Dan in the early 1970s with Donald Fagen. The two had met while attending Bard College in upstate New York in the 1960s and bonded over their mutual love of jazz. They performed in several different ensembles together, including one named the Leather Canary that featured a young Chevy Chase on drums. Steely Dan became one of the biggest jazz-rock fusion bands of the 1970s before breaking up in 1980. The group reformed in 1993, with Becker and Fagen the only two consistent members of the band.

Along with Steely Dan’s discography, Becker had released two solo albums, 1994’s 11 Tracks of Whack and 2008’s Circus Money. While primarily a guitarist, Becker took over singing duties while on tour with the later incarnation of Steely Dan, as well as recording “Slang of Ages” on their follow-up to their Grammy-winning comeback album Two Against Nature, called Everything Must Go, in 2003. He could be seen lending vocals to “Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More” from Katy Lied and performing a unique stream-of-consciousness monologue during “Hey Nineteen” from their 1980 effort, Gaucho, in recent years.

From the YouTube channel of edgeofthewind

Becker had been recovering from an unspecified procedure and was slated to go out on tour with Steely Dan later in the year.

More on this story as it develops.

UPDATE: Donald Fagen has released this statement on the passing of his bandmate:

“Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

Donald Fagen
September 3 2017”

Read Kelly D’s recent review of Donald Fagen & the Nightflyers’ concert at the Capitol Theatre HERE.

STEELY DAN DISCOGRAPHY:

1972: Can’t Buy a Thrill

1973: Countdown to Ecstasy

1974: Pretzel Logic

1975: Katy Lied

1976: The Royal Scam

1977: Aja

1980: Gaucho

2000: Two Against Nature

2003: Everything Must Go

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com

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