Walter Becker, One Half of Steely Dan, Dead at 67

Walter Becker, One Half of Steely Dan, Dead at 67

Walter Becker, One Half of Steely Dan, Dead at 67

Guitarist and co-founder of Steely Dan, Walter Becker, has passed away at the age of 67 years old. He was sixty-seven, and living in Maui.

Becker missed Steely Dan's Classic East and West concerts in July as he recovered from an unspecified ailment.

Born in NY in 1950, Becker learned how to play blues guitar at a young age, and he met Fagen while they were both in college. What Fagen made clear in his brief statement for his friend is that the concept, which they developed together over decades, will not end with his death.

Becker, who was born in Queens, New York, met Fagen met in the late '60s at Bard College; they were both interested in jazz, pop, and rock 'n roll.

Ever sardonic and ornery, when they got back together and started touring again, Mr. Becker joked in an NPR interview that they were going to be wearing defibrillator backpacks during their performances just in case something went wrong.

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Fagen wrote a tribute to Becker on Sunday after the announcement of his death, which was reported by Rolling Stone. That these songs were written and sung convincingly by very young men on the loose in Los Angeles is extraordinary.

And then there's all the other Steely Dan tracks Becker was a mastermind in helping to construct - "Black Friday", "Kid Charlemagne", "Aja", "Gaucho", "Time Out of Mind", "Gaslighting Abbie", the list goes on. The implication was: if you want to party, keep moving along. But for Becker and Fagen, a kind of smugness was positively weaponised.

Which is all to say that Clark wasn't wrong in his characterization, exactly. Also soul music and Chicago blues. Becker played bass and guitar for the jazz-flavored band and the duo received widespread acclaim and commercial success even when the band toured frequently into 2017, according to the Guardian. But earlier this summer, for whatever reason, I dug out the seven initial records Becker and Fagen cut as Steely Dan.

Of course, it is hard to be extremely serious for long without also being amusing. In 1971, they moved to California and formed Steely Dan-with the name coming from William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch. Though critics will-and should-cite and celebrate Becker and Fagen's chops as musicians and arrangers, I've always most admired their circuitous, clever lyrics. The band could be poignant, too. You are so loved and I feel for your partner Donald Fagan and your fam. ‬ ‪Straight to the stars....

The jazz rock band split up in 1981 but reformed in 1993. Steely Dan's unpretentious reunion and steady work ethic-they reunited in 1993 and toured almost every year since-showed the heart of the Grinch had grown, and all that cool hunter dross was rightfully tossed aside in favor of what's actually important and what will last: the music.

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