Sunday, September 3, 2017

Steely Dan founder and guitarist, Walter Becker, has passed. My thoughts are with his family.

Walter Becker, the guitarist and bassist for the popular rock band Steely Dan, died Sunday. He was 67.
News of Becker's death was confirmed by a tribute post on his official website, though no cause of death was given.
Becker was forced to bow out of two Steely Dan performances earlier this month after undergoing an unidentified "procedure," according to bandmate Donald Fagen.
Fagen released a heartfelt statement on the passing of his longtime collaborator, praising Becker's skills as a musician and his killer sense of humor.

"Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967," Fagen wrote. "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 a creative mimicry, reading people's hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art."
He added, "I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."
The Queens-bred Becker and Fagen launched their musical legacy together in the early '70s.

After working as songwriters penning tunes for artists like Barbra Streisand, they formed Steely Dan — named after a strap-on dildo mentioned in the William S. Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch" — and in 1972, released their debut album, "Can't Buy a Thrill."
Throughout the decade, they rose to fame with hits like "Reelin' in the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (though Fegan once said he and Becker weren't very fond of the track) and "Dirty Work," which would go on to become classic rock staples thanks to their jazzy tunes and clever lyrics, often steeped in black humor and irony.
Looking back on the band’s success throughout the ‘70s, Becker said in 1993 that the music Steely Dan churned out over the years ultimately helped set him up for life

“I would say that basically I’m still resting on those laurels quite comfortably,” he said. “It opens doors. When I meet people and players for the first time, they’re already on my side. It’s been just a very good and very positive influence on people I meet and work with.”
Disputes over personal and legal troubles caused the band to part ways in 1981 after seven albums together, but Steely Dan ultimately rejoined forces in 1993 and have spent the last two decades touring.
“In truth, our original bit was put together very quickly, and it got kind of frantic in the first couple of years of touring and making records. I guess we figured we’d be deceased at an early date, so we figured we’d cool it for a few decades,” Fagen told Rolling Stone in 2013 of Steely Dan’s bumpy road.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 after a career spanning nearly four decades, nine Grammy nominations and three wins, all three of which came in 2000 for the album "Two Against Nature."
Becker enjoyed a brief solo career as well, releasing “11 Tracks of Whack” in 1994 during a stint living in Hawaii as an avocado rancher, and his final album, “Circus Money,” in 2008.
During press tours for his debut solo album, Becker explained that he was enjoying his time out of the spotlight and embracing the role of family man.
“The perfect day for me is waking up and having a cup of tea with my kids before I drive them to school, then I go into the studio and try and write some music for three or four hours and give up about noon,” he told Jazziz in 1993.
But he remained a vocal fan of his time spent on-stage with Fagen, which helps explain the band’s longevity and their passion for touring.
“It’s just such a good band and magic stuff happens all the time, and there’s stuff that happens when you’re playing together where you get into a kind of group mind that’s very thrilling,” Becker said in 2008 of touring with Steely Dan. “I’m sure that other people experience the same kind of thing in all sorts of other realms, but for me, it happens when I’m playing with other people.”

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