Steely Dan Guitarist and Co-Founder Walter Becker Dead at 67

Walter Becker, co-founder, guitarist, and bass player of Steely Dan, has died at the age of 67. A message appeared on Becker's official website this morning with no additional details or indication of cause of death.

As Rolling Stone reports, this news follows Becker missing a string of Steely Dan shows over the summer while recovering from an unknown medical procedure.

As one-half of the legendary rock duo, Becker helped craft a series of landmark records in the 1970s that set a benchmark for studio craft. Known for radio hits like "Reelin' in the Years" and "Do it Again," Steely Dan evolved through a rotating cast of members over the years, with Becker and partner Donald Fagen serving as the only consistent members.

Though Fagen was the more vocal member of the outfit, for fans of "the Dan," Becker's thoughtful lines, visionary production skill, and masterful playing proved an essential presence through the band's original run from 1972 to 1981 and during the reunion period starting in the mid-'90s.

Becker was born in in Queens, NY in February of 1950.

Update: Following the news of Becker's death yesterday, Donald Fagen released the following statement and tribute:

"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."

Becker on Bass with Steely Dan in 1973

Becker and Fagen break down the production of "Peg" from Aja


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