On Sunday, it was revealed via his official website that Walter Becker, bassist, guitarist, co-founder and co-songwriter of Steely Dan, has died at the age of 67.
Becker’s official site provided no further details, but his band mate and co-founder, Donald Fagen, issued a lengthy remembrance that was shared by Rolling Stone. It reads as follows:
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.
September 3 2017
Steely Dan’s most recent activity was taking part in the Classic West and Classic East concerts alongside Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Journey, Earth, Wind and Fire and the Doobie Brothers. However, Becker did not take part in those concerts as he was dealing with an unspecified ailment that kept him at home, per doctor’s orders.
May Walter Becker rest in peace.