Steely Dan’s Walter Becker dead at 67

Walter Becker (left) and Donald Fagen (right). (Photo: AP Images)

(ABC News) — Walter Becker, guitarist and bass player for Steely Dan, has died. He was 67.

Becker had been in ill health recently, and did not perform with his Steely Dan bandmate Donald Fagen at the Classic East and Classic West festivals this summer. According to Billboard, at the beginning of August, Fagen told reporters on a conference call, “Walter’s recovering from a procedure and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.” He did not elaborate.

Becker met Donald Fagen as a student at New York’s Bard College and they played together in a number of groups, one of which included fellow student Chevy Chase. Becker and Fagen later performed with Jay and the Americans, and composed the soundtrack to a 1971 Richard Pryor film.

The two moved to California in 1971 and formed Steely Dan, taking the name from the novel Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs. Their debut album “Can’t Buy a Thrill” was released in 1972, and featured the now-classic “Do It Again.” The albums they released through 1980’s “Gaucho” featured songs that have become rock radio staples, including “Reelin’ in the Years,” “My Old School,” “Hey Nineteen,” “Peg” and “Deacon Blues.”

Their best-selling album, 1977’s “Aja,” won a Grammy and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003. The band itself was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

In Memoriam – Walter Becker During his time in Steely Dan, Becker struggled with drug addiction. After Steely Dan broke up in 1981, Becker got sober and did production work for other artists, most notably China Crisis. Becker and Fagen started working together again; Becker produced Fagen’s 1993 solo album and they toured together to support it. He and Fagen then reunited as Steely Dan and did their first tour in 19 years.

In 1994, Becker released his debut solo album, “11 Tracks of Whack.” He would release a second solo disc, “Circus Money,” in 2008.

Steely Dan’s 2000 comeback album, “Two Against Nature,” won the Grammy for Album of the Year. In 2003, they released another, “Everything Must Go.” They continued to tour together, while Becker did songwriting, production and session work for other artists.

In 2016, Fagen said it was “hard to say” if Steely Dan would release another album. He is currently on a solo tour with a backing band called the Nightflyers.

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