Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker dead at 67
Bandmate Donald Fagen says, 'I intend to keep the music we created together alive'
Walter Becker, a guitarist, bassist and songwriter with the jazz rock band Steely Dan, died Sunday at the age of 67, according to his official website.
No other details, including the cause of death, were given.
Steely Dan, whose music blends R & B, jazz, soul and pop, is best known for albums Pretzel Logic (1974), Katy Lied (1975) and Aja (1977).
In a statement Sunday to Variety and Rolling Stone, lead vocalist and keyboardist Donald Fagen described Becker as "my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate," whom he met at Bard College in New York state in 1967.
"Walter had a very rough childhood — I'll spare you the details," Fagen wrote.
"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."
The group, founded by Becker and Fagen, found success in the 1970s with the debut album Can't Buy A Thrill. It spawned the hits tracks Reelin' in the Years and Do It Again.
Their albums Aja and Gaucho both received Grammy nominations for album of the year in 1977 and 1981 respectively.
Becker battled substance abuse and medical issues after being hit by a car. Steely Dan disbanded soon after.
"His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while," said Fagen in his statement.
Becker moved to Hawaii and reportedly stayed away from using drugs, eventually reuniting with Fagen after several years to start touring again.
Steely Dan went on to win three Grammy Awards in 2001, including album of the year for Two Against Nature. The album also earned a fourth Grammy in the engineering category.
The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and continued to perform until Becker's death.
"I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band," Fagen wrote.
Producer and Grammy-winning musician Mark Ronson referred to Becker as "one half of the team I aspire to everytime I sit down at a piano."
'80s sensation Howard Jones, known for hits such as Things Can Only Get Better and Everlasting Love, called Becker one of his all-time favourite musicians.
Sad to hear the death of Walter Becker of Steely Dan one of my all time fav. musicians. We had 2 precious hours talking in LA. Thanks Walter—@howardjones
rest in peace WALTER BECKER, one half of the team i aspire to everytime I sit down at a piano. thank you for your unparalleled contribution—@MarkRonson