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Walter Becker (1950 - 2017)

Getty Images / Photo by Tim Mosenfelder

Walter Becker (1950 - 2017)

Walter Becker, the co-founder and guitarist of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Steely Dan, has died at the age of 67. 

Becker’s official website announced his death, no details were given.

Becker met his longtime musical collaborator Donald Fagen when both were attending Bard College. Becker and Fagen formed a band in college that included Chevy Chase on drums. Becker and Fagen then became songwriters in New York City. The duo became known for their cerebral wry lyrics and sharp cultural observations. 

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In 1971, the partners moved to Los Angeles and formed Steely Dan in 1972. The band’s music was a unique blend of rock, jazz, soul and pop. Becker at first was the bassist and then switched to guitar. During the 1970s the band became a commercial success. They toured early in the 1970s and then became a studio band until they broke up in 1981. 

Becker told Rolling Stone in 1974. "I'm not interested in a rock/jazz fusion. “That kind of marriage has so far only come up with ponderous results. We play rock & roll, but we swing when we play. We want that ongoing flow, that lightness, that forward rush of jazz." 

One of the band’s biggest songs was released in 1974. “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” was a top 5 hit. Other popular songs were “Bad Sneakers” and “Black Friday.” The 1977 album “Aja” is considered by many critics to be their masterpiece. 

After the band broke up in 1981, Becker became a producer, working on albums by Rickie Lee Jones and Michael Franks. He joined the New Wave band China Crisis and produced their 1985 album “Flaunt the Imperfection.” 

Becker and Fagen reunited as Steely Dan in 1993 and became a steady touring band. They released the Grammy-winning album “Two Against Nature” in 2000. They continued to tour until Becker took time off for an undisclosed illness in July. 

In 2001, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Becker released two solo albums, his last one “Circus Money” came out in 2008. 

Donald Fagen penned a tribute today to his longtime friend and partner. Fagen said in part, “I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.” 

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