Guitarist and co-founder of Steely Dan, Walter Becker, has passed away at the age of 67 years old. As Pitchfork notes, Becker recently had an operation that prohibited him from touring with bandmate and co-founder Donald Fagen, as revealed in an interview with Billboard earlier this month. The news was confirmed this morning on Becker’s website with the below post without any further details.
Steely Dan is one of the most important bands to come out of the 70’s. Their unique approach to pop music–a slick combination of jazz, off-center chord progressions, meticulous arrangements, and introspective lyrics–has left an indelible stamp on the world of music. The band essentially created their own genre; they didn’t allow outside influences to change their artistic output, and they maintained a stylistic integrity throughout their career, even apologizing for their own recordings that they felt were sub-par. Starting with 1972’s landmark debut album Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan released one record per year for the next five years, showing a prodigious work ethic that led to a bevy of classic soft rock albums, four out of five of them going Platinum in the process (1973’s Countdown To Ecstasy only reached Gold status). After releasing perhaps their best record, 1977’s landmark album Aja, the band would retreat into the studio for a lengthy recording process for what would turn out to be the final record of the pinnacle of their career, the wonderfully poppy and secretly dark 1980 album, Gaucho.
Here’s a compilation of Steely Dan from 1972-1980 for your listening pleasure:
Rest In Peace, Walter Becker!