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Author Topic: RIP Walter Becker Co-Founder of Steely Dan  (Read 315 times)
guitarfool2002
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« on: September 03, 2017, 07:29:45 AM »

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/walter-becker-steely-dan-co-founder-dead-at-67-w500956

Walter Becker, guitarist, bassist and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band Steely Dan, died Sunday at the age of 67.
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Becker's official site announced the death; no cause of death or other details were provided.

Becker missed Steely Dan's Classic East and West concerts in July as he recovered from an unspecified ailment. "Walter's recovering from a procedure and hopefully he'll be fine very soon," his band mate Donald Fagen told Billboard. Becker's doctor advised the guitarist not to leave his Maui home for the performances.

Becker and Fagen first became collaborators when they were both students at New York's Bard College. After working as songwriters (Barbra Streisand's "I Mean to Shine") and members of Jay and the Americans' backing band, the duo moved to California in the early Seventies to form Steely Dan – named after sex toy in William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch – alongside guitarists Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Denny Dias, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer.

Following the release of their debut 1972 LP Can't Buy a Thrill, the lineup would change again with Palmer's exit; while Steely Dan would routinely rotate musicians, Becker and Fagen remained the group's core members. Despite the ever-changing lineup, Steely Dan made their stamp on music with a string of pristine, musically sophisticated albums with "calculated and literary lyrics" that blurred the lines of jazz, pop, rock and soul.

"I'm not interested in a rock/jazz fusion," Becker told Rolling Stone in 1974. "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."

He added, "I learned music from a book on piano theory. I was only interested in knowing about chords. From that, and from the Harvard Dictionary of Music, I learned everything I wanted to know."

With Becker on bass, Can't Buy a Thrill produced the hits "Reelin' in the Years," "Dirty Work" and "Do It Again." Countdown to Ecstasy followed in 1973 with Fagen now entrenched as lead singer. Following 1974's Pretzel Logic – which yielded the band's biggest hit, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" – the band experienced as a major upheaval as in-demand touring musicians Dias, Baxter and Hodder all exited the quintet. "It was unfair of us to spend eight months writing and recording when Jeffrey Baxter and others in the group wanted to tour," Becker told Rolling Stone in 1977. "We weren't making very much money and everybody wanted to be out touring a lot. We didn't. That was that."

For 1975's Katy Lied, the now-duo – with Becker also picking up guitar duties – surrounded themselves with a team of expert studio musicians that included Toto's Jeff Porcaro, guitarist Hugh McCracken and Michael McDonald. "We don't feel it's something to be ashamed of," Becker said of Steely Dan's "enlarged-band concept". "We had outside players on the first album. The Beatles did it quite a bit, by their own admission. A lot of things Eric Clapton played…everyone thought it was George Harrison."

With that "supergroup" structure in place – the album features contributions from McDonald, the Eagles' Timothy B. Schmit, drummer Jim Keltner and legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter – Steely Dan released their masterpiece Aja in 1977. The album, one of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, features classics like "Peg," "Deacon Blues" and "Aja," became the duo's first platinum album, selling over five million copies and peaking at Number Three on the Billboard 200.

As their manager Irving Azoff told Rolling Stone in 1977, "Think of the biggest American supergroups. Fleetwood Mac. The Eagles, Chicago... And Steely Dan. Everybody knows Steely Dan. They belong in that list. All we had to do was make it official." Despite the success, the duo would dissolve their partnership within three years, following the release of 1980's Gaucho.

It would be another 20 years – 2000's Two Against Nature – that Becker and Fagen would record another Steely Dan album. That LP ultimately won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 07:52:11 AM »

Good lord. Steely Dan have been a big part of the soundtrack of my life since 1973. I saw them perform in Lucca, Italy, just a few years ago.

Damn shame. Rest in peace, sir.     
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2017, 10:33:50 AM »

My dad is going to be absolutely crushed. He loves Steely Dan and will almost always take the opportunity to see them live.
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2017, 11:56:35 AM »

I'm listening to WXPN playing a steady rotation of Steely Dan. And they're just spinning "I Know There's An Answer" in the middle of the tribute! Wow.

Anyway, I could write a book about how much Steely Dan means to me as a musician. They made what are hands down the best sounding records of the rock era. I use "Black Cow" from Aja to test any new speakers, amps, or audio components in general. It is absolutely humbling to hear how pristine the sound is and how transparent and perfectly balanced those mixes are. It's a lost art. The Dan was the last artist to truly master the analog format and analog studio recording in general, and they were also the last to truly use the studio musician scene to its full potential. It's now an antiquated form of art to do things that way...and the lineage traces right back to the 1960's. There will never be another Steely Dan.

What I love about Walter is he had a truly wicked sarcastic sense of humor, and Fagen was the perfect compliment for that along with the music they made...but some of my favorite guitar centered interviews came from Walter in more recent years when he expanded on his views on guitars in general, guitarists both with The Dan and otherwise, and he was truly one of those fanboys like all of us who love hearing and playing and geeking out on the guitar.

So yeah, the music world has lost a giant with Walter's passing.
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"Every single person who criticized Brian for having She & Him, Kacey Musgraves, Sebu and Nate Ruess guesting on his solo album can now officially go heartily f*** themselves." - Wirestone

"I will never change with what I think happened in here and you will never convince me otherwise." - Dr. Beach Boy.
"There was no up front fees, period. swedishfrog  and I paid for the domain name. As of June 19, 2016 at 4:32pm edt, that is all I was charged for." - Dr. Beach Boy
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2017, 02:08:01 PM »

Very, very sad news! RIP Walter!
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2017, 02:21:33 PM »

Sad
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