On September 3rd, 2017, we received the saddening news that Steely Dan guitarist and co-founder Walter Becker had passed away at the age of 67. The music world will long remember the innovative songs he wrote with longtime friend and lone surviving original member Donald Fagen. The New York band, formed in 1967 while the two were at Bard College, was well-known for being meticulous in their songwriting process in the studio, creating numerous brilliant albums over the years. Steely Dan’s prolific creativity earned the band a devoted cult following, several Grammy Awards (including “Album of the Year” for Two Against Nature in 2001), and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, in addition to selling tens of millions of albums sold worldwide.
Another notch in the duo’s belt came back on October 29th, 2015, when the Empire State Building celebrated the 50th anniversary of it’s Master FM Antenna, which sits atop the world-famous skyscraper and anchors the iconic Manhattan skyline. Legendary lighting designer Marc Brickman—who also orchestrated an ESB light show for the Grateful Dead‘s Fare Thee Well show on July 4, 2015—fittingly choreographed the LED Tower Lights to the band’s 1978 hit “FM (No Static at All).” The song was written as the lead single for the film FM, which was about disc jockeys working at a popular radio station fighting to keep radio freeform. Take a look at pro-shot aerial footage of the memorable Empire State Building Steely Dan light show display below in all its glory:
Steely Dan – “FM (No Static At All)” – Empire State Building Light Show
[Video: Empire State Building]
This was not the only time that Walter Becker was honored in high-profile fashion by the Big Apple. On Saturday, October 28th, 2018, the City of New York held a ceremony to officially rename a Queens city block in Becker’s honor. The street sign for Walter Becker Way is now posted on the corner of 112th Street and 72nd Drive. According to an early release about the re-naming that mirrored Becker’s sly sense of humor, “This represents the kind of street credibility that Becker truly would have appreciated!”
Fans of Steely Dan can catch a very special late-night tribute their music in at Republic NOLA in New Orleans during Jazz Fest on Thursday, May 2nd (technically early-morning May 3rd). Led by musical director Joey Porter (The Motet), the lineup will feature Lyle Divinsky (The Motet), Nick Cassarino (The Nth Power), Nate Edgar (The Nth Power), Michelangelo Carubba (Turkuaz), Craig Brodhead (Turkuaz), Shira Elias (Turkuaz), Sammi Garett (Turkuaz), Josh Schwartz (Turkuaz), Greg Sanderson (Turkuaz), Chris Brouwers (Turkuaz), Nate Werth (Snarky Puppy, Ghost-Note), and Bryan McNamara.
For more information on the New Orleans Steely Dan tribute, head here.
You can grab your tickets here.