Walter Becker, Co-Founder of Steely Dan, Dies at 67

Walter Becker, Co-Founder of Steely Dan, Dies at 67

Walter Becker

Even that we do not want to start the week with sad news, probably it will be that. DSB have sad news about guitarist, bassist, co-founder and co-writer of Steely Dan band – Walter Becker.

Yesterday this was confirmed on his personal and official website. Walter Becker has died and he was 67. The cause of his death was not announced.

Becker had cancelled his appearances at the recent Classic West and Classic East concerts due to illness. His band-mate Donald Fagen released a statement describing their long partnership and said:

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

Born in Queens, New York City on February 20th 1950, Becker attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he started out on the saxophone before switching to guitar and learning blues techniques from neighbor Randy Wolfe.

In 1969, prior to completing a degree, Becker quit school and moved with Donald Fagen to Brooklyn, where they began to focus writing songs together, recording alongside Jay and the Americans under various pseudonyms.

Together they produced singles and albums that ruled the charts during the early and late 70s. Walter Becker was largely absent from the musical stage during Steely Dan’s extended separation from 1981-1993. Only after the group’s reunion that he undertook solo recording. His albums “11 Tracks of Whack” produced by Fagen in 1994 and “Circus Money” from 2008 – failed to duplicate the band’s success.

Becker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Donald Fagen in 2001. The musicians bonded over their love of jazz and blues and the writing such a humorist’s lyrics as Vladimir Nabokov and Terry Southern.

In the most success period of Becker’s and Fagen’s careers with Steely Dan were transform collaborations with some of the biggest stage names like: Mark Knopfler who contributed with them, Rick Derringer, Dean Parks, Elliott Randall, Larry Carlton and many others.

Fagen and Becker hired Mark Knopfler, after hearing him play on Dire Straits’ hit single “Sultans of Swing”, to play the guitar solo on “Time Out of Mind” song on Gaucho album from 1980. Several hours of Knopfler’s playing were recorded at the session, but his contributions as heard on the record are limited to a matter of seconds.

“Gaucho” album was recorded two years from 1978-1980. In one interview in 1994 Becker said:

“That album took about two years, and we were working on it all of the time…all these endless tracking sessions involving different musicians. It took forever and it was a very painful process.”

In later years, Becker also served as a writer for the jazzy vocalist Madeleine Peyroux’s “Half the Perfect World” (2006) and “Bare Bones” (2009).

Rest in Peace
Walter Becker
20. Feb 1950 – 3. Sept 2017

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