9/4/2017 8:45:00 AM Steely Dan co-founder dies at 67
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A rock and roll fan with a penchant for harmony and obtuse references, Walter Becker, the guitarist, bassist and co-founder of the 1970s rock group Steely Dan, which sold more than 40 million albums and produced such hit singles as “Reelin’ In the Years,” “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number” and “Deacon Blues” died Sunday. He was 67.
Donald Fagen said in a statement Sunday that his Steely Dan bandmate was not only “an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter” but also “smart as a whip,” “hysterically funny” and “cynical about human nature, including his own.”
“I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band,” Fagen wrote.
A Queens native who started out playing the saxophone and eventually picked up the guitar, Becker met Fagen as a student at Bard College in 1967.
“We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm,” Fagen recalled in his statement. “We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, (Vladimir) Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.”
They played with the 1960s pop group Jay and the Americans and penned the song “I Mean to Shine,” performed by Barbara Streisand in 1971 before moving to California and founding the band, which they named after a sex toy in William S. Burroughs’ 1959 novel “Naked Lunch.”