Rest in Peace, Walter Becker of Steely Dan: 1950-2017

Rest in Peace, Walter Becker of Steely Dan: 1950-2017

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.

Donald Fagen

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.

6 Responses to "Rest in Peace, Walter Becker of Steely Dan: 1950-2017"

  1. Chris P.   September 3, 2017 at 11:15 am

    I cannot imagine how my life would be, had Walter and Donald had never met. The music these two crazy geniuses built from scratch has been with me throughout every experience and situation of my adulthood, good and bad. Their songs have comforted me, given me strength and made me feel good. Their music always seemed to know what I needed, at a particular moment. Thank you, Walter, for feeding my soul.

  2. brian   September 3, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Big fan of the Dan since hearing Rikki on my AM radio in ’74…….
    Finally got a chance to see them this past july at Dodger Stadium .. Bummed Mr Becker was not able to perform.

    Had a feeling then that the end for him was near…

    Awesome tribute from Mr Fagen…


  3. Barry Silver   September 3, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I had the most enviable opportunities to see Steely Dan 7 times. Remarkable performers, lyricists, songwriters, and satirists, I have had the chance to see and hear. AJA is a perfect album! May Steely Dan continue, perhaps with Larry Corryell, or such similar jazz guitarist with rock licks. Can’t be a rock-jazz world without them.

  4. Jerry Beacom   September 3, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Walter and Donald produced some of the most memorable music of the past thirty-something years. It will live on forever, just as Walter’s legacy. RIP Walter Becker.

  5. Bill Rich   September 3, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Another incredible talent passes way too young.

    Thank you Walter and your bandmates for all the wonderful tunes you created for your fans:)

    RIP Mr.Becker

  6. Mel Gonzalez   September 3, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Love Steely Dan. Grew up listening to them on the radio. Certainly part the soundtrack of my youth. I was “reelin’ in the years”….
    Walter will be missed….RIP


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.