Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker dies
Walter Becker, the co-founder of US jazz rock band Steely Dan, has died at the age of 67.
The guitarist and bassist’s death was announced on his official website, accompanied by a recent photo and one from his childhood. No other details were given.
Becker founded the Grammy-award winning band with Donald Fagen in 1972.
The pair went on to sell more than 40 million albums and were the only two musicians to remain in the group for its 33 active years.
Born in New York City in 1950, Becker grew up revering jazz giants Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
He and Fagen bonded over their love of the music genre after meeting as students at Bard College in the Big Apple in 1967.
Steely Dan’s ‘Aja’ album was one of the first American LPs to gain platinum status. The band was later inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Keyboardist and lead vocalist Fagen paid tribute to his friend as “hysterically funny” and promised to keep their music alive as long as he could.
“Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details,” he said. “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.
“I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.”
In July, Becker missed Steely Dan’s Classic East and West concerts as he recovered from an unspecified illness.
At the time, Fagen said: “Walter’s recovering from a procedure and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.”
Steely Dan’s name reportedly came from a sex toy in the book Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.
The group split up in 1981 but reformed in 1993, and Becker also had a career as a solo artist.