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Walter Becker, Steely Dan Guitarist and Co-Founder, Dies at 67

Walter Becker, Steely Dan Guitarist and Co-Founder, Dies at 67

Legendary guitarist, bassist and co-writer for the sophisticated, dark-humored band Steely Dan, Walter Becker on Sunday died at the age of 67. He was sixty-seven, and living in Maui.

"Becker had cancelled his appearances at the recent Classic West and Classic East concerts due to illness", Daily Variety reported. When you add to that the awesome musicianship they brought and surrounded themselves with, what follows is a catalogue of music that raised the bar for anyone who was paying attention.

Guitarist Walter Becker of Steely Dan performs at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 6, 2007. Some of their most famous hits include Reelin' in the Years, Deacon Blues and Do It Again. They have spent the last two decades touring.

Ryan Adams tweeted: "Walter Becker, you changed my life with music". If you're a Steely Dan fan you have to check out the Aja documentary. insane.

This shared vernacular was created back when Becker and Fagen were students at Bard and they spoke it over the next half century. Their songs are terrifically complex, structurally-mapping one harmonically could take days.

Which is all to say that Clark wasn't wrong in his characterization, exactly. Steely Dan's eventual demise, after 1980's "Gaucho", came after conflicts with their record company and also with the mother of Becker's ex-girlfriend. They broke up in 1981 after the album's release. The idea was simply to make something richer and less rote-something more spiritually akin to the novels of Phillip Roth, Terry Southern, or Kurt Vonnegut, less skronking and absurdist than Frank Zappa but just as ambitious. The man with whom Fagen co-authored some of the greatest records of the past 50 years, however, remains tantalisingly elusive.

Of course, it is hard to be extremely serious for long without also being amusing. Becker was the primary arranger. The band could be poignant, too. We love and miss you.

In 1993, Becker and Fagen re-emerged as Steely Dan, leading a band that would tour frequently well into 2017.

More recently, after a 20-year hiatus from making music, Steely Dan released a studio album in the 1990s called Two Against Nature. In the same piece - arranged to coincide with the severely undervalued reunion album, Two Against Nature - Becker briefly describes the substance issues that once plagued him as "social ills".

"What underlies Steely Dan's music - and may, with this album, be showing its limitations - is its extreme intellectual self-consciousness, both in music and lyrics, " wrote critic Michael Duffy in Rolling Stone in 1977 of the album.


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