Walter Becker, co-creator of Steely Dan, dead at 67

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

A lukewarm Rolling Stone review from the time said it contained "three top-level cuts and scattered moments of inspiration". "We want that ongoing flow, that lightness, that forward rush of jazz".

Becker co-founded Steely Dan with Donald Fagen.

Musicians and other celebrities mourned Becker's death on social media and mentioned it was a major loss to the music industry.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Fagen in 2001. Becker began to move forward on lead guitar starting with Katy Lied, where he was featured on "Black Friday" and "Bad Sneakers". Rickie opened for Steely Dan last fall at the Beacon; Walter had produced one of her albums. Their follow-up, 1973's Countdown to Ecstasy, was not as successful, but the group rebounded the following year with Pretzel Logic, which included their big hit "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and was the first to feature Becker on guitar.

"Do It Again" in particular seemed a favorite of music supervisors and soundtrack compilers, gracing films and TV episodes as diverse as 2002 doc The Kid Stays in the Picture, the same year's Laurel Canyon, and TV's The Dead Zone. "Deacon Blues", the epic seven-minute side one closer on Steely Dan's Aja, will forever be the prototypical hipster paean, a song about a suburbanite that feels like a fraud sitting in a Manhattan jazz club, working up the courage to get up on the stage and learn to work the saxophone. Also, let's not forget the fact that Becker's own solo musical output - 11 Tracks of Whack and Circus Money - prove just as pleasing to listeners as Fagen's own The Nightfly and Kamakiriad. It was the essence of a classic partnership, and in the pop world, the Steely Dan alliance was as championed as they came. In a calm manner, he proclaims that "there's a star in the book of liars by your name", bitterness and profound sadness permeating through his voice.

The band split following 1980's "Gaucho" album, but reformed 20 years later to make the Grammy-winning "Two Against Nature". Becker and Fagen relied on the same studio musicians that played on countless soft rock records, pushing these session players to deliver precise performances.

On the 1972 album Can't Buy a Thrill, Only a Fool Would Say That segues into the rollicking Reelin' in the Years, encapsulating both sides of the band - their smoothness offset with an nearly wacky energy. Then Fagen and Becker decided they wanted off the road and, after a show in the summer of 1974, stopped touring. Fagen has vowed to uphold Steely Dan's legacy, but Walter Becker's absence will definitely be felt.



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