Posted: 7:34 pm Sunday, September 3rd, 2017
No band on earth sounds like Steely Dan.
Today we lost another rock genius – Walter Becker, who, along with his college friend, Donald Fagen, brought us one of the most unique, smoothest-sounding rock bands of the 7os.
When Steely Dan played at the Classic East and West shows last month with the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, Fagen was without his counterpart. He said then that Becker was recovering from a procedure and “hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.”
Here’s how Fagen memorialized his friend today when speaking to Rolling Stone:
Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.
We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.
Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.
His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.
I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.
September 3 2017
Rest in peace, Walter, and thank you so much for giving the world Steely Dan.