Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker dies

Walter Becker performs in concert at the Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Fla., on June 13, 2009. Becker, who co-founded the band Steely Dan, died Sunday. Photo by Michael Bush/UPI

Sept. 3 (UPI) — Walter Becker, co-founder of the band Steely Dan, formed in the 1970s, died Sunday. He was 67.

The guitarist’s death was reported on his personal website with two photographs of the musician and the epitaph: “feb. 20 1950 — sept. 03 2017.”

Becker had canceled his appearances at two July concerts with his former Steel Dan lead singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen — Classic West in Los Angeles and Classic East in New York — due to an undisclosed illness.

Becker and Fagen co-founded Steely Dan in 1972.

The band’s name came the novel Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Steely Dan was noted for its jazz-rock sound. They penned several hits, including Do It Again, Reeling’ in the Years and Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. In 1977, their best-selling album Aja, won a Grammy.

The band dissolved in 1981 and reunited in the 1990s. Their 2000 album Two Against Nature earned four Grammys, including one for album of the year.

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

Fagan, who is now on a solo tour with a backing band called the Nightflyers, closed the tribute with the following: “I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.”

Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2001.

Becker, who was was born Feb. 20, 1950 in Queens, N.Y., met Fagen as a student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., while playing a gig at local club the Red Balloon.

Grammy-winning musician Carl Newman called Becker “one half of the team I aspire to everytime I sit down at a piano” on Twitter.


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