The legendary band Steely Dan’s guitarist Walter Becker has passed away. This death was confirmed by a short post on his website. The guitarist had recently faced an operation that prevented him from touring with bandmate Donald Fagen, according to an interview in Billboard.
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen started their journey together as students at New York’s Bard College. The two started working as songwriters for Barbara Streisand and then later became members of Jay and the Americans’ backing band, the duo then moved to California in the early Seventies to form Steely Dan.
What made the band stand out was their creative way of blending elements of jazz into their music. The band’s classic hits such as, “Dirty Work,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” blasted the band into a new-found level of popularity, but a series of personal dilemmas led to their breakup in 1981. The band eventually got back together in 1993, and have been touring ever since.
“Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967,” Donald Fagen wrote in a tribute to Becker. “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.”
They released two more albums several years later, Two Against Nature in 2000 and Everything Must Go in 2003. The duo earned nine Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year for Two Against Nature. Becker also put out two solo albums, 11 Tracks of Whack in 1994. And Circus Money in 2008. Walter Becker was 67.