Walter Becker, Steely Dan Co-Founder, Dies at 67
Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:33:45
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Steely Dan's guitarist and co-founder Walter Becker died Sunday at age 67. Becker's official website announced the news via a touching tribute by Sayan Becker to her father and childhood memories of his low-key rockstar ways and galactic knowledge. Read the letter below:
"You loved music more than anyone I know. You're always there bobbing your head to each beat, doing a little dance here and there, or sitting over there with your big head phones on and swaying back and forth. I could see it, your dissecting the song — listening in closely for each beat , for each musical instrument — you know, whatever you musicians do. But I get it.
"Every road trip without fail came The Pit Stop at some guitar store. Heck, dad, I keep telling you why don't you just own your own store? Five hours go by as I sit watching you fiddle with a guitar here and there...yet you never end up buying one. I understand though; it was your fun place, like an arcade; playing all you can, and as loud as you can. Your candy shop.
"Dad you're kinda funny; sometimes I may not understand the meaning behind your witty highly intelligent comments or jokes, but for you to smile and make everyone — or even thousands all at once — smile and laugh, then yeah you got something going for you pops... I get it. Your presence makes everyone's day a little brighter. I love you for that.
"Coast to coast. How is it that you know so many facts about every state or country we visit? We would walk through Central Park Zoo and just randomly point out some little thing... and here it comes, some long historical fact about it. Dad, it's a seal for crying out loud! It amazes me how intelligent you are.
"Dad, I like that we understand one another"
"Sa-girl, we are soul mates"
"Dad I love you to the moon and back"
"Girly face I love you more than that, to the next galaxy"
"Wow, that's far!"
"Well it's true"
"... for your love for music, your fatherly advice and devotion, your knowledge about the world and your blindingly sharp sense of humor ... for all that, and more.
"We had one hell of a ride. You are my world, my soulmate, my father, that I love so much.
"It's true your love is shining from the next galaxy. I could see it now; you got a whole galaxy of guitars to look at. Rock on dad, rock on until your heart is content.
I hear you.
I get you.
—Your only Pulama Ama Lama.
Becker founded Steely Dan with vocalist and keyboardist Donald Fagen in 1972. Fagen and Becker first met at Bard College in 1967, and began writing "nutty little tunes" together. In Brooklyn after graduating, the two recorded multiple demos and eventually the soundtrack for an early Richard Pryor film, You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat.
Steely Dan's debut album Can't Buy a Thrill was released by ABC in 1972, featuring Top-10 hits "Do It Again" and "Reelin In The Years". Multiple grammy wins followed, until the band split in 1981, when Becker moved to Maui and stopped using drugs.
Becker and Fagen ultimately reconvened in the 90's for a series of successful tours and albums, including 2000's Two Against Nature, which won four Grammy Awards, including Best Album, beating out Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP and Radiohead's Kid A.
Becker and Fagen played their final shows together in early 2017, before Becker missed July's Classic West and Classic East shows with an unexplained illness. Since Becker's death, Fagen has promised to Steely Dan fans that he will "keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."
—The ARTISTdirect Staff