Friday, 22 September, 2017

Steely Dan's Walter Becker dies

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen Steely Dan's Walter Becker Passes Away at 67
Sammy Stanley | 06 September, 2017, 12:05

Most bands from the 1970s focused on live performances - but not Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, musicians who kept an air of mystery around their band by focusing more on studio albums than live music.

In the lengthy statement that Fagen released to Daily Variety, he described Becker's upbringing and personality and pledged to make sure Steely Dan's musical legacy lives on.

A NY native, Becker met Fagen while studying north of the city at Bard College.

Becker had a very rough childhood, Fagan recalled, but was as smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and great songwriter. "He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically amusing", he said.

A confluence of difficulties led to the band's dissolution in 1981.

The band's other cofounder, Donald Fagen, released a remembrance of his longtime friend after news of Becker's death broke. "Their 2000 album "Two Against Nature" collected four Grammys, including one for album of the year", Daily Variety reported.

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.

Becker and Fagen reunited as Steely Dan in 1993 and became a steady touring band.

A few years later, the men were ready to move on - Becker and Fagen announced they were going their separate ways in 1980, to the great disappointment of their fans. This has been very good for Steely Dan.

Besides the sublime instrumental beauty and power of the song "Aja", Becker and Fagen nailed the frozen-over soul of the disaffected and terminally cool in 1977, years before Malkmus and Sonic Youth and everyone lampooned in "Losing My Edge" knew how to dress and how to follow the code.

Becker and Fagen were said to be closely connected and cooperative while deciding on each and every element of a song that they made including the words, the arrangement, and the music. One story in particular he told me that stands out is about him seeing the original Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East for the first time and how much it blew his mind.

Becker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Fagen in 2001. We have reached page 86, about halfway through Eminent Hipsters, and the point where the meaty tale of Steely Dan should be belatedly getting under way.

Becker died Sunday at 67.

. Their music sounded beautifully new - and, in many instances, exquisitely weird - all over again.

Becker also released two solo albums: 1994's "11 Tracks of Whack" and 2008's "Circus Money", his final album.

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