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Steely Dan’s Walter Becker dies aged 67

Walter Becker, guitarist and co-founder of Steely Dan has died aged 67, his website has confirmed.

Steely Dan consisted of Becker and Donald Fagen, and the band released seven studio albums between 1972 and 1980, including 1977’s Aja. The pair were famed for their perfectionism in the studio and would bring in whichever session musicians they needed to record their albums. They reformed and issued two further long-players, Two Against Nature in 2000 and 2003’s Everything Must Go. Post 2003 the band toured fairly regularly.

Walter Becker produced some other artists, including China Crisis‘ 1985 album Flaunt The Imperfection (due for reissue in less than two weeks) and briefly reunited with Donald Fagen in 1986 to play on Rosie Vela‘s album Zazu (produced, like all seven of Steely Dan’s classic albums, by Gary Katz).

No cause of death has been announced as yet.

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37 responses to Steely Dan’s Walter Becker dies aged 67

  1. Mark says:

    What a shame. Steely Dan are a continuing and beautiful part of my music life. My thoughts are with his friends and loved ones.

  2. alan hansen says:

    musically? WTF!
    nursingly? WTF!
    humanly? my condolences to his loved ones.

  3. karl probst says:

    I saw them in Toronto back in 2015 and they were amazing. The best horn section ever. I’m sad I’ll never get to see and hear him perform ever again. Such a talented musician.
    God rest your soul Mr.Becker.
    Peace

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I never saw them. Was due to see them next month at the O2!

      • peter chrisp says:

        Heard about that on Sunday night as i am in Australia was a little shocked to say the least they toured Australia around 4 years ago with Steve Winwood on the same bill and they were amazing live. Could not believe they jumped on stage at 8:45pm & finished 12:06am it was one of the longest concerts i have ever witnessed. If there was one minor disappointment but oh well, no “Do It Again”, stunning concert too. Karl in total agreement it was out of this world a 195 minute concert! Legendary.

        • Justin says:

          I saw that show in Sydney Peter, and it was truly amazing. That version of “Pretzel Logic” at the end with Winwood on his Hammond organ will live in my memory for a long time. It was stunning, and left so many speechless and shaking their heads what they had just witnessed. So glad I got to see them, WB played some beautiful solos that night. RIP Walter.

      • Tom of FIN says:

        Was fortunate enough to witness during their comeback years. Positively thinking the living half is still going on. Canceled concerts in July and mr. Donald Fagen himself hoped to his partner recovery after unexptected medical procedures to get back on the road with the singer-songwriter.

        Without mr. Fagen, Becker would be nothing as a legend. Not mentioning in a cynical sense, only positively. The continuing man “wrote” the songs, not mr. Becker. Anyways that unique dynamics never possible again, that is a tremendous loss to the civilized world!

        • Daniel Wylie says:

          Walter Becker was a massive part of the songwriting in Steely Dan. They wrote together and Becker had the best nose for a pop tune. Brian McNeill (ex China Crisis) worked on two of my albums and is feeling rather sad today.

  4. Philip Cohen says:

    Becker’s main input into Steely Dan was as a lyricist.

  5. Stephen E Cohen says:

    I saw Steely Dan last October at the Beacon Theatre in NY.
    Walter Becker was hardly recognizable until he did his one little solo “rap” in the show. Not to be judgmental, but he looked dreadfully unfit. Donald Fagen clearly kept that concert going. While Becker’s talent was obvious in the past, his personal issues made it so hard for Steely Dan to continue.

  6. WKRP says:

    He’s going to that big Steely Dan in the sky. So long, dude.

  7. Mathew Lauren says:

    Paul,

    So, Steely Dan did a concert series in late 2015 playing a couple of their albums in their entirety plus greatest hits, but only in the New York City area:

    http://www.brooklynvegan.com/steely-dan-play-2/

    They never did this in the Los Angeles area, though I held out hope.

    Fast forward 18 mos +/- :

    I had 2 great seats (last minute) this past summer (2017) at Dodger Stadium, but as it was last minute and none of my “friends” could make it (free ticket or not). So, I passed seeing S.D. — again!

    I just saw this “thoughtful” note from Donald to Walt in the wake of Walt’s passing, posted in the last couple hours:

    http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7950043/steely-dan-donald-fagen-walter-becker-death-statement

    So, Steely Dan music will live on with the Steely Dan Band: LIVE!

    …and I will make it to one of these shows!

    It’s kinda, sorta like when I finally saw Led Zeppelin sans John Bonham. Jason Bonham was on duty and doing his father proud!

    It’s not exactly the same, but…

    I hope you enjoy the Steely Dan show, whenever you finally get to see them.

    Rock on!

  8. John D says:

    Damn.
    Walter also produced Rickie Lee Jones’ great album ‘Flying Cowboys’.
    Rest in peace.

  9. Mark Carroll says:

    Great band, saw them in 1996 at the NEC… Fabulous..RIP Walter Becker…

  10. Robert Laversuch says:

    So sad. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. Saw the reformed Steely Dan once in 2000 in Frankfurt. Sublime. Still rate Pretzel Logic as one of the finest albums ever – R.I.P.

  11. The Roaring Fire says:

    I saw Steely Dan twice in their heyday and they will always be in the Top Ten Bands of all time.

    Walter you were a superb musician here on Earth and you will no doubt be a superb musician and man on your travels. Thank you.

  12. Phil G. says:

    As well as his immaculate work in Steely Dan, Walter Becker produced two of my favourite all-time albums – Rosie Vela’s Zazu and China Crisis’ Flaunt The Imperfection.

    RIP Walter.

  13. garax says:

    Amazing amazing band – was very fortunate to see them at Hammersmith Odeon in 2009 when none other than Elliott Randall joined them on stage to play his solo from Reelin’ In the Years. It was a terrific show. As long as there are people alive on this funny little planet people will listen to the music he helped to create.

  14. adam shaw says:

    Sad day , he really was part of a great partnership . And i know you cant touch Lennon and McCartney but Walter and Donald come pretty cloe .
    I saw them twice luckily , Wembley arena and the Hammersmith , two very different shows but the Dans sarcasm shone through with off course brilliant music .

  15. BritinDetroit says:

    Such was the influence of Becker and Fagen, that Pretzel Logic was NME’s album of the year in 1974. The sequence brought us Katy Lied, Royal Scam and Aja, I would be waiting anxiously at Harlequin on Cheapside to spend my 2 pounds and something to hear something new from The Dan
    In later years Detroit was a regular stop for Steely Dan and the shows were always sublime and sometimes better
    Have a soft spot for Countdown, but Pretzel Logic was their masterpiece.

  16. Sebastien michel Mills says:

    i became a fan of the dan in 2000…. the song cousin dupree just hooked me in … love the two against nature album from 2000…then i discovered the rest of their catalogue… wow !! pure genius….. must be quite the jam they are having up there ! dan fan forever :)

  17. Rob C says:

    One of my favourite bands, I was fortunate to have gotten to see them a few years ago in Melbourne – with World Party opening.

    They were brilliant as expected – I truly looked forward to having the chance to see them again.

    RIP Walter – your genius will be missed.

  18. Kenny says:

    RIP Walter. Mustn’t forget he also made a couple of decent solo albums as well: “11 Tracks Of Whack” and “Circus Money”

  19. baward says:

    I’m off to listen to my DVD-A of the boys’ ‘Everything Must Go’, followed by ‘The Nightfly’ DVD-A as a bonus feature ;-)

  20. negative1 says:

    I’m a steely dan fan, and more 0f a donald fagen one now.

    but walter becker will be missed. there is so much classic rock,
    and many tracks and albums that were a huge influence.

    i’m glad i got to see them twice in the last decade, and they
    were both amazing shows.

    condolences to the family.

  21. ken.e says:

    Babylon sisters shake it

    Steely Dan knew how to build a song that sounded as perfect as perfect could be. So many great albums so many great musicians.

    I picked up the China Crisis Diary of a Hollow Horse which has the original Walter Becker produced album on disc one replacing the Mike Thorne re-recordings for three tracks. I assume it was released this was as it was a preference for the band to have it released as originally intended.

    Sad to hear about his passing, far too young.

  22. Julian H says:

    RIP. I listened to my 2CD Steely Dan Best Of compilation. Great band, one might say too sophisticated for the pop charts, but they were successful!

  23. DiscoDave2000 says:

    RIP Walter Becker. The quiet half of Steely Dan. In addition to the incredible body of work with the Dan, Walter produced two of my favorite 80’s albums – China Crisis – Flaunt the Imperfection and Rickie Lee Jones – Flying Cowboys. The guy knew how to create a soundscape. While a terrific guitar/bass player himself, he never insisted on the spotlight and gave up his own moments to shine in service to the song.
    From Donald Fagen’s Kamakiriad album, produced by Walter with slinky bass supplied by Walter as well, this is Snowbound with one of my favorite bass lines. Enjoy!
    Snowbound – Drums, Bass Vocals mix only here>> https://youtu.be/8px0fO_es5A

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