Musicians And Fans Mourn The Death Of Steely Dan Guitarist Walter Becker

He was a guitarist, a bassist and the co-founder of Steely Dan, Walter Becker passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 67.

Becker co-founded Steely Dan in 1972 along with college friend Donald Fagen.

News of Becker's death was announced on his official website.

Becker had a very rough childhood, Fagan recalled, but was as smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and great songwriter.

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"He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically amusing", Fagen wrote in a tribute posted at Rolling Stone.

The band split following 1980's "Gaucho" album, but reformed 20 years later to make the Grammy-winning "Two Against Nature".

Steely Dan toured regularly until well into 2017, settling in for long residencies at places such as the Beacon Theatre in New York City and performing entire albums from its catalogue.

Although rejecting the label of "jazz fusion" for Steely Dan, Walter Becker acknowledged the influence of jazz in the sound of the group. 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.

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Walter Becker has left an incredible body of music behind and will be sorely missed. The transitions between phases are so expert as to feel invisible, yet the cumulative effect is nonetheless transporting: when a person reappears on the other side of a Steely Dan song, she feels as if she's been floated somewhere different. Though Haynes and Becker never performed together, Hayne writes that the two musicians had met and talked on a number of occasions.

Steely Dan's sophomore set "Countdown to Ecstasy" (1973) included "My old school", a backhanded tribute to Fagen and Becker's alma mater Bard was perhaps too bitter for most listeners and failed to strike a chord with the listeners. His accomplice Donald Fagen, with he had created Steely Dan, had then explained that he was recuperating from an illness.

They formed Steely Dan (named after a sex toy in William Burrough's Naked Lunch) in the early 1970s; while they eventually ended up playing with a rotating cast of top session musicians on each album, Becker and Fagen remained the core of the group. The contrast between the gleaming surfaces of Steely Dan's records and the bad flaws exposed by their lyrics sounds less, these days, like a delicious irony, and more like a chronic poignancy.

The personality clashes made things worse and was followed by a lawsuit, which was triggered by the drug overdose death of Becker's girlfriend Karen Stanley and a serious injury Becker sustained when he was struck by a NY cab. Becker also had a career as a solo artist, releasing two albums including Circus Money in 2008.

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(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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