News

Walter Becker Dies At 67

Steely Dan Co-founder remembered fondly by collaborator Donald Fagan

By Jon Liebman 
September 3, 2017

Walter Becker, founding member of the Rock Hall-inducted band Steely Dan, has died at 67, according to Becker’s official website. No cause of death has been announced nor have any other details been provided.

Donald Fagan, Becker’s longtime music collaborator, issued the following statement:

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.

Donald Fagen
September 3 2017

 

Comments

  1. Roberto Bernardinello says:

    this is just beautiful, a true honor of friendship.
    Thank you for writing this Donald Fagen and FGPO for posting it

  2. Bruno Migliari says:

    A genius gone

  3. marcus davis says:

    Too bad another Musician gone .Steely Dan are a great band.I like what Donald Fagan said in that he would keep the Music alive for as long as he can.

  4. Cricket Cohen says:

    Call me Deacon Blue.

  5. Dan Schlegel says:

    A piece of us all dies when the great ones pass..SALUTE TO WALTER& CONDOLENCES TO YOU DONALD! YOU GUYS GAVE ME MORE INSPIRATION THAN 3YRS IN MUSIC SCHOOL JUMPING MUSICAL HOOPS!
    ETERNALLY GRATEFUL,
    DAN SCHLEGEL,BASSIST

  6. John Wallach says:

    A huge loss for the music community. As 1/2 of the non-existent “band” that was Steely Dan, some of the best rock/jazz/snakey pop music was created, with the best backup musicians on the planet. The guitar seat saw Larry Carlton, Denny Dias, Skunk Baxter, and in current years John Harrington; the bass seat on the best of the Dan music saw Chuck Rainey. Doesn’t get any better.

    Walter may not have been the best guitar player or singer, but his great, twisted world view went into the greatest, twisted stories & lyrics. People uneducated to the Dan’s music…listen to the songs, listen to the lyrics, hear the ridiculous chord changes–and then realize that calling Steely Dan “yacht rock” would only be appropriate for a song lyric where the yacht was sinking with a billionaire running from the law, aboard with his secret mistress.

    RIP, Walter.