Tributes paid to Steely Dan icon following death at 67

Steely Dan's Walter Becker Passes Away at 67

The guitarist had not been able to perform in concerts in July with band mate Donald Fagen, saying earlier that he was recovering from an unspecified condition.

Becker and Fagen have a very strong reputation for being absolutely meticulous in crafting the sound of Steely Dan, especially in the studio. In a classic Michael Watts Melody Maker piece from 1976, Becker admits that, "It may be right in saying that the world crystallised through our eyes bears very little resemblance to anyone else's world, even though we think we're recording it as we see it".

Fagen wrote a tribute to Becker on Sunday after the announcement of his death, which was reported by Rolling Stone.

Born in Queens, New York City on February 20th 1950, Becker attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. "Find our place in the middle based on the fact that we were creatures of the margin and of alienation". The calypso rhythms of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" don't work quite as well in "Happy Feet" once you realize it's a song about a dude who shows the neighborhood kids dirty movies.

When the interviewer asked about bands touring past their prime, Mr. Becker just said: "People were already thinking that about us in the '70s".

Meanwhile, the music used richly ambiguous harmonies rooted in Debussy, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, giving the songs a sophisticated core that would be widely influential across jazz and pop.

"Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967", collaborator Donald Fagen wrote. While artists such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock released pioneering fusion albums in the 1970s, Steely Dan propelled the genre to great crossover success.

The group was titled, "Steely Dan" after a sex toy of a similar name in William S Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch".

In 1993, Becker and Fagen re-emerged as Steely Dan, leading a band that would tour frequently well into 2017. This hint of dirtiness also underlined how the characters populating Steely Dan songs were often unsavory types; underneath that shiny surface, there was dirt.

Fagen described his bandmate as "cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically amusing".

He encountered his future partner Fagen as a student at Bard College in NY while playing a gig at local club the Red Balloon. Safe to say, relatively few of the band's legions of record buyers could have picked Becker out of a line-up.

The two met while studying in NY, before relocating to California and forming the group along with Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer.

The track "Do it again" from the album went on to become a massive hit on the radio, followed by the single "Reeling in the years".

"M$3 ost of the things that go into the fusion category are premeditated efforts to take incompatible musics and put them together", Becker told the New York Times in 1977.

Related news: