Walter Becker From Steely Dan Passes Away At The Age Of 67

Wednesday, 06 Sep, 2017

Just weeks after his band partner revealed that he was recovering from surgery, it is announced that WALTER BECKER of Steely Dan has passed away at the age of 67 over the weekend.

Becker was lead guitarist of the sophisticated, jazz-flavored Steely Dan, which he formed with Donald Fagen, the keyboardist and lead vocalist.

He encountered his future partner Fagen as a student at Bard College in NY while playing a gig at local club the Red Balloon.

Mourning his co-songwriter, Fagen said in a statement that Becker had a "very rough childhood" which he overcame with wit and singular talent.

"He was cynical about human nature, including himself, and incredibly amusing", said Sunday Donald Fagen, in a tribute to Walter Becker.

The band dissolved in 1981 and reunited in the 1990s. The news was confirmed through a picture posted to his official website. He was a producer, and was credited as a band member, on Flaunt the Imperfection by Scottish band China Crisis in 1985, and he went on to produce Rickie Lee Jones' 1989 album, Flying Cowboys.

Mourning Becker's death was a curious thing to watch, because Steely Dan was always the antithesis of 1960s-utopian love-ins, snide and cynical and world tired, void of romance. Fagen's decision-presumably mutual between him and Becker, considering the latter's ill health earlier this year-makes complete sense, and isn't at all analogous to Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey continually retiring and reforming, even after the death of The Who's bassist Pete Entwhistle in 2002.

The band was in its heyday in the 1970s, although it retained a following.

A few years before the release of Aja, Steely Dan stopped touring and became a studio-only band. She died of an overdose, and Becker, addicted to drugs at the time, was sued for wrongful death, a case he eventually won.

Becker, however, takes up roughly two and a half pages, then is gone: "But that's another story", notes Fagen, unnecessarily, and it's one he's clearly unwilling to tell. The band sold more than 40m albums and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

You can see why hip-hop artists were so eager to pay tribute to Becker: the hip-hop samples were part of a symbiotic relationship with black music, as Becker and Fagen nodded to jazz, funk and gospel - sometimes, as on The Royal Scam, all on the same track. Thank you Mr. Becker for a lifetime of great music. Their music sounded beautifully new - and, in many instances, exquisitely weird - all over again.