Steely Dan’s Walter Becker Dies At Age 67

Rolling Stone reports:

Walter Becker, guitarist, bassist and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band Steely Dan, died Sunday at the age of 67. Becker’s official site announced the death; no cause of death or other details were provided.

“Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967,” Donald Fagen wrote in a tribute to Becker.

“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.”

  • another_steve

    May he rest in peace. Great great music is his legacy.

    I’m in my 60s too, btw.

    I don’t like it when people in their 60s die.

    • Galvestonian

      60’s ? – you’re still kids.

      • another_steve

        So many 60-somethings seem to be dying these days.

        I almost think that if you make it to 70, you’re good to go for a long long time.

        • 2guysnamedjoe

          Whatever it was that kept you going for 70 years should keep you going for several more.

          • another_steve

            Probably so, Joe.

            I’m thinking that nature, evolutionary biology, whatever, never intended for us humans to live past our child-bearing and child-rearing years. Back in the very early days, most of us probably didn’t.

            Today’s medications and scientific breakthroughs re healthy diet and exercise and the like keep us “artificially” alive way past age 45 or so, when – from evolution’s perspective – we become superfluous.

            I think I’ll go have a Beefeater Martini now.

    • Karl Dubhe

      These days I hardly believe I’ll live to 60…

      Ah well, at least I’ve lived longer than nearly all of the other humans in history. 🙂

      • another_steve

        In another comment here, I just expressed the same thought re “longer than nearly all of the other humans in history.”

        Great minds think alike. 😉

      • David Walker

        I was thoroughly surprised when I reached 30. Let’s just say that 18 to 30 is kind of a blur. I’ve never done much to take care of myself and yet here I am, more than twice the age I thought I wouldn’t see, still waiting for the bastards in Harrisburg to reinvent the wheel of dispensing medical pot. I can’t afford street prices; medical will have to do, and while medical is now legal in PA, we still can’t get it. Bastards. I just want to be able to listen to music again, music like this, and feel it. I don’t know why that’s so much to ask.

        • Karl Dubhe

          Coming out in 1986…

          Memories of…

        • prixator

          i don’t know what it is like in PA, but currently in Canada, legal medicinal pot from authorized distributors is as expensive, or more, than recreational pot bought on the street.

          How that will change next year when recreational pot becomes legal, isn’t known yet.

          • David Walker

            I’ve heard that. I’m hoping Medicare will help. Otherwise…well, I don’t know.

    • sfbob

      I’m 66. A year younger than Becker.

      Also today a friend of mine passed away; he was 55 and had been fighting cancer on and off for several years. I don’t like it when people in their 60s die. Even less do I care for people in their 50s dying. Life isn’t unfair, unfortunately. If it were Becker and my friend (and so very many of my friends who passed in the 80s and 90s from AIDS) would still be alive and Trump would have not have lived to see 12.

      • another_steve

        Condolences to you on the loss of your friend, Bob. Always a terrible thing to experience the loss of a dear one.

        Glad you’re talking about it. Sadness should never remain bottled up inside us.

      • whollyfool

        I’m so sorry to hear it. You’re right; it isn’t fair at all. 🙁

    • Cattleya1

      He will be remembered and as long as we play his music and it has meaning for us, he will live on. I hate seeing the people who wrote the music of my life die off, but nobody promises us tomorrow. Several wise people have said ‘live every day as if was going to be your last, because one of these days you are going to be right.’

      • another_steve

        “Living in the present” is a central tenet of Daoist, Buddhist and mystical Hindu tradition. Not so much with Christianity and Islam, where the emphasis is on the afterlife: How you must live today so that you will earn eternal glory in the afterlife. Or some such mishegas.

        Judaism doesn’t dwell on what comes after life. The emphasis is on living a good and righteous life, now.

        Lao Tzu, the (possibly mythical) founder of Daoist tradition, had it just right imo:

        • Cattleya1

          I am not so sure that this is not what Judaism teaches. I am admittedly a corrupt haldbreed, and despite not believing that any god exists, I keep the fast every year on Yom Kippur. It is a ritual I rejoice in seeking to perfect my miserable existence . My mother and the other Jews around taught me to seek to make the world a better place – and life for all ethical and beneficial.

          • another_steve

            My mother and the other Jews around taught me to seek to make the world a better place – and life for all ethical and beneficial.

            Beautiful, Cattleya1. Who could possibly put it better than that, my friend.

            Re your “miserable existence,” I say your existence and mine are perfect, just as they are. The ancient Chinese sage, Lao Tsu, put it this way:

            The universe is sacred.
            You cannot improve it.
            If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
            If you try to hold it, you will lose it.
            So sometimes things are ahead and
            sometimes they are behind;
            Sometimes breathing is hard,
            sometimes it comes easily;
            Sometimes there is strength and
            sometimes weakness;
            Sometimes one is up and sometimes
            Therefore the sage avoids extremes,
            excesses, and complacency.

            ~Verse 29, Tao Te Ching

          • Cattleya1

            Not so unlike Kohelet (Ecclesiastes in the Christian Bible). I have lately noticed that I can read Kohelet from the viewpoint of the Author. Perhaps a tiny amount of wisdom has crept in over the course of my 63 years. I spent last night listening to Steely Dan – they seemed to have gotten the wisdom sooner than I did…

  • TuuxKabin

    Rest in Peace Walter Becker. We’ll extend the holiday weekend into listening to Steely Dan, sure.

    • Tony Adams

      That is exactly what we are doing. And, remembering how the DJ at the NYC Eagle would close out the night with

      • TuuxKabin

        Never stayed for last call, such a schlep home, but how appropriate. Thank you.

    • TheManicMechanic

      I have everything by them in a continuous playlist cranking here.

      • Lars Littlefield

        Be careful. You risk turning into a yuppie.

        • TheManicMechanic

          Too old for that now. And the only BMW product I have is a Mini Cooper S. 😉

      • TuuxKabin

        Way to go. Thank you for the ‘dedication.’ We’re rooting thru boxes of CD’s for same.

  • bkmn

    The music of my youth. RIP Walter

  • Phillip in L.A.

    You’re welcome

    • another_steve

      You were first, boyfriend.

      From an earlier thread, this comment of yours:

      Phillip in L.A. • 3 hours ago
      RIP Walter Becker (1950-2017)

  • TheManicMechanic

    Another one of my musical favorites is gone. Glad I was able to see him perform. The music will live on forever. RIP

  • Igby

    This came from the Reuters report this morning –

    “The band took their name from a fanciful dildo that appears in the beat novelist William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch.”

    Walter Becker, may your heaven consist of Quervo Gold and fine Colombian!

  • Karl Dubhe

    And Trump’s still here.


    • another_steve

      You can say “fuck” here on JMG, Karl. You don’t have to fudge it.

      It’s apparently an okay word, as opposed to some of the “forbidden” words that are auto-censored here, Orwellian-style.

      • Karl Dubhe

        Every so often, my typing speed exceeds the accuracy. This is one of those times.

        I blame running out of weed on Friday for this state fo horrors.

        • another_steve

          Prove it to us by typing vulgar words in your future comments.


          • Karl Dubhe

            You’ve seen me comment before, I try to keep the profanity to a minimum.

            Out of respect for those who can swear well enough to strip paint. I’m not in their league.

          • another_steve

            Honey – Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, here.

            No one can be as vulgar as I can be, when I want to.

          • Karl Dubhe

            You’ve not been thru basic training, have you? 🙂

          • another_steve

            Fortunately not, Karl. I was an undergrad when college deferments were still a thing during the Vietnam War. Timing can be everything in life.

            My mastery of vulgarity is something I picked up on the streets of NYC.

          • Karl Dubhe

            I joined a peacetime military, nice short term contract, then out.

            I got what I wanted, a working holiday to Australia. 🙂

          • Robincho

            I guess bone spurs aren’t a thing down under…

          • Karl Dubhe

            Between Korea(53) and Afghanistan(01), Canada didn’t go to war with anyone. We used to be peacekeepers…

            Long long ago. 🙁

          • David Walker

            No, but I was raised northern redneck around some people who were remarkable in their ability to throw a conventional word into a conversation from time to time. It started as a don’t-use-it-around-the-parents adjective and blossomed from there.

          • Karl Dubhe

            There was one time in my life, when an older man advised me and others not to ask grandma to “pass the fucking butter” when we went home for xmas. 🙂

        • Mike_in_the_Tundra

          Bad time to run out of weed. I just replenished mine.

          • Karl Dubhe

            F’n hell of a weekend to run out too.

            I called on Friday, but NO. Rat bastards…

            I can’t wait to tell the pushers to go bar-b-que themselves after the trade is legal.

      • Robincho

        Like cnut, for example…

        • another_steve

          I know of two forbidden words on JMG: “cünt” and “nïgger.” (Note that the use of diacritic marks gets around the thought/speech-control software.) There might be other forbidden words that I haven’t happened upon yet.

          Were I to use either in a comment here on JMG, it would be apparent to anyone with half a brain that it wasn’t the result of bias or bigotry but the result of playful campiness.

          People who aren’t discerning – who are either unable or unwilling to discern things like “motivation” or “intention” – can go fuck themselves.

          • Jukesgrrl

            News to me that either of those words can be “playfully campy.” Satirical, maybe. Snarky in the right way. But not campy any way.

          • another_steve

            You cannot / should not define what “playfully campy” is or is not for me or for anyone else, just as I cannot / should not define your thought and speech processes for you.

            You certainly shouldn’t do that for nelly boys like me, who’ve been through quite a lot so that I and other nelly boys have the right to define ourselves and our speech for ourselves.

    • don

      Cheney too. I just threw up in my mouth writing that.

  • PickyPecker

    Yes, I’m old. I remember as a young Pecker when AM radio was all we could get. Then came FM…and a youuge difference. You could drive under a bridge and not lose the signal! Anyway, this was my first intro to Steely Dan…and have loved them ever since.

    • another_steve

      Great song, PP. Thanks.

      (I remember telephone party lines btw.)

    • JWC

      Gone the full circuit AM FM XM and now back to AM all the good tunes

      • TheManicMechanic

        AM radio is the absolute pits here. The only useful stations are a couple news/sports stations and a couple Spanish language outlets. The rest are Jesus garbage and wingnut talk. At night CFZM 740 from Toronto comes in nice and clear. Best listening is after midnight, during their “Midnight Blue” music hour. Completely uncensored, mostly old blues and swing with extremely racy lyrics. Those jelly rolls those ol’ gals are singing about have nothing at all to do with a bakery.

        AM still has a few good stations left in other areas, but in order to have decent music, I have to fire up my two low power transmitters and roll my own. Gotta have period perfect music for all the old radios in the collection. 😉

        • JWC

          Get a couple of good one AM 880 out of Seattle and 640 Victoria. West coast so no your area that was the problem with AM limited reception XM you could drive cross country on one station

          • TheManicMechanic

            I have a SiriusXM subscription for many years, and I’ve driven all day listening to one station. I used to like getting local flavor from nearby FM and AM stations. Doing so is hit and miss, with mostly misses these days. Very few truly independent stations left, most are corporate owned and syndicated, with nothing that makes them unique. I will still try and find an indie station when I spend some time in a particular state or town. When I travel, I carry along a little AM/FM radio that is over 50 years old. It’s something I’ve done longer than the radio has existed.

          • JWC

            yup they are a dying quality and breedthis 880 out of Seattl is syndicated I have heard it referred to as “The JohnTesh” radio

    • Daveed_WOW

      “…blues and Elvis and somebody else’s favorite song….:

      Kind of sums them up perfectly, doesn’t it?

    • Cattleya1

      Great song, Mr. Pecker. ‘Reelin’ In The Years’ is still my favorite, though.

  • Natty Enquirer
  • Lars Littlefield

    Rikki Don’t Lose That Number marked the smooth era of California fern bars and the revival of obscure ancient cocktails (the Ramos Fizz) where one would glide into an atmosphere of serene numbness of stay-pressed tropical prints and waitresses who would often throw in a short shoulder rub to help you forget your woes. The world was devoid of hard rock and disco. The sound of Steely Dan was practically a life philosophy. I sort of miss those days. But not too much.

    • Daveed_WOW

      break out the hats and hooters

  • sfbob

    This totally sucks.

  • Robincho

    Steely Dan was the name of the dildo in Borstal Boy. Please to see the king…

    • Jukesgrrl

      Borstal Boy was Brendan Behan’s autobiography. I’d be surprised one could get a steely dan in 1950s Ireland.

  • E.J.

    “Ain’t never gonna do it without the fez on”

    • don

      I don’t think they have any not-good songs! JMHO.

  • canoebum

    Ok, this one really hurts. Walter Becker was one of the world’s outstanding guitarists and writers. He, together with Donald Fagan, created a whole new American Songbook. I have tried to find a classification for the style music they wrote and performed, not an easy task. It had rock elements, but certainly was not rock and and roll, it had jazz and blues elements, but wasn’t quite jazz or blues either. It was a style that drew on the best of American musical roots, from all corners. Not only were their songs superior in their musical quality, the stories in their songs were fascinating and engaging, they reached deeply into the human experience, from the trivial and whimsical, to the soulful and wicked. They both demanded excellence from themselves and everyone who worked with them. It can be heard in every song they recorded. Thank you Walter. King of the World, indeed.

    • Jukesgrrl

      And that you. That’s an excellent comment.

  • boobert

    I graduated from a midwestern high school in 1972. They have had many reunions since then, and another this month. I’ve never been to one and never will. I just sing my theme song ! The beginning always gives me chills.

    • David Walker


    • another_steve

      Easy to see why that song has a special significance for you.

      School reunions can be freaky. I’ve never been to any of my own, but I’ve accompanied my husband to several of his. To his 50th high school reunion and to the White House, twice, for reunions of the Georgetown University Class of ’68.

      My husband was a classmate of Bill Clinton’s at GU. The reunions held at the White House (at alumni, not taxpayer, expense) were during Clinton’s terms in office.

    • Robincho

      “Oh when the blue and white fall into line,
      We’re gonna win this game and that’s a sign,
      We’re gonna fight fight fight for victory,
      And have our name go down in C.H. history…”

      This anthem was always sung sotto voce, as if to unnerve our opponents.
      But DID it unnerve them in fact? I never cared to linger for the answer…

      Those competitive years are long gone. But the withering summer sun still rises over Weld County, Colorado. And the many singers of those lyrics who never made it the fuck outta Weld County, Colorado (as I did, mercifully), are still sitting on their back decks, inhaling the special stench that only warm bovine feces can produce of a summer evening…

    • TheManicMechanic

      I have the same feelings toward this song and my old schools. I was thrilled to finally get away from them, and I’m never going back.

    • JCF

      Becker and Fagan met at Bard College…

      …in Annandale. 🙂

  • Nick in Pasadena

    Here’s my favorite. Becker and Fagen’s masterpiece.

    • don


  • ErikDC

    I was in college in 2001 when Steely Dan’s “Two By Nature” won the Grammy for Album of the Year over Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP.” My roommates and I were all like — WTF. 😡

    Eminem should’ve won.

    • canoebum

      They give the Grammy out for excellence in music. I’m not so sure I’d call what Eminem does “music”. Folk art, maybe…but music, questionable.

      • ErikDC

        You sound like my father.

        • Vira

          Yeah, if it’s a list on the internet, it’s legit. Little Bodacious Cowboy, you sound like the boy I cut off last week because he was stupid.

          Guaran-goddamn-tee ya we won’t be talkin’ about no M&M 20 years from now. In my case, not even 20 minutes from now.

          You say this guy is so cool, snapping his fingers like a fool.
          Can’t you see they’re laughing at you?
          Get rid of him, I don’t care what you do at home.
          You’re a nasty school boy with no place to go.
          Try again tomorrow.

          • ErikDC


            Rap music is a dominate cultural force and has been for the past 35 years. Eminem is considered among the best rappers of all time. He is the best selling artist of the 21st century.

            If Eminem were to die tomorrow, his death would get wall to wall media coverage for weeks similar to that of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince. He is on that level, as one of the most iconic musical figures of all time.

    • JCF

      You seem nice.

      • ErikDC

        It is what is. The internet is full of lists like this and Steely Dan is on every single one…

        Grammy Awards: 11 worst Album of the Year winners in history:

        10. Steely Dan – “Two Against Nature”

        The 2000s saw several career achievement awards in the form of Album of the Year wins. Steely Dan’s 2001 “Two Against Nature,” a very good album but not deserving of the Grammys’ top honor, somehow beat out Eminem’s “Marshal Mathers LP” and Radiohead’s “Kid A,” two albums that have become defining works within their respective genres.

  • BeaverTales

    My favorite two person band. I am glad his music will live on.

    Becker’s guitar chords were unforgettable. I wonder if he was gay, because Rikki don’t lose that number was one of the gayest songs of all time. Steely Dan was supposedly the name of a mechanical Dildo. 🙂

    • Lars Littlefield

      According to The Rolling Stone, in college Becker was in love with the pregnant wife of a friend or professor. He professed his love by giving her (Rikki) his phone number, telling her that he knew she was in love with him. By the time he’d moved to California and become semi famous, she still hadn’t called.

    • I’m pretty sure Walter Becker was Straight … not that there’s anything WRONG with that …

  • kareemachan

    Why him and not drumpster?

  • ChrisInKansas

    I was on a huge Steely Dan kick earlier in the year and got all their albums on CD and most on vinyl. Especially love Aja and Gaucho. So good and so many amazing hooks. We could have gone to see them in KC but decided it was too expensive. You should never wait to see an established act perform. They may retire or pass at any time and you’ll never get another chance. RIP.

  • e jerry powell

    Time for me to dig through my parents’ LP back catalog. Lots of good memories in there.

  • Daveed_WOW

    Once upon a time, youngsters – if you wanted to listen to music for free – you had to turn on the radio.

  • ohbear1957

    Bodhisattva would you take me by the hand?

  • Keith D Plane

    my high school and college days were fueled by Steely Dan and very very good pot. RIP Mr. Becker!

  • jaybird100

    Steely Dan… great fusion between rock and Jazz. Walter, and Donald Fagan, gave us some great music over the years. Walter will be missed.

  • fuzzybits

    RIP Mr. Becker. I have quite a bit of their music and Aja remains one of my all time favorite albums.

    • canoebum

      Aja stands with the records like White Album, Beggar’s Banquet and Dark Side of the Moon. An unrivaled masterpiece.

  • fuzzybits
  • Death reaches us all eventually, but it still makes me very sad to learn of Walter Becker’s death. Steely Dan was part of the soundtrack of my college years, and they were still turning out great music long after radio execs would no longer give them the time of day. The live performance they filmed at Sony Studios in NYC, in conjuction with their “Two Against Nature” album, is an essential DVD.

    Drive west on Sunset to the sea
    Turn that jungle music down
    Just until we’re out of town

    This is no one night stand
    It’s a real occasion
    Close your eyes and you’ll be there
    It’s everything they say
    The end of a perfect day
    Distant lights from across the bay

  • Avenger280

    “They call Alabama the Crimson Tide…
    They call me Deacon Blues”

    RIP Walter Becker. I remember being in high school cruising with the FM soundtrack in the 8 track of my grandfather’s 63 Impala (those were the days LOL).

  • Jukesgrrl

    I’m as sad as I was the day Lou Reed died. Those two still had music in them and we’ll miss it.

  • Phillip in L.A.

    I have no words

  • JCF

    Taking a time-out from my JMG time-out, to salute the greatness of Walter Becker. My older brother turned me on to Steely Dan, when I was just a wee sprite (like 11?). He saw them live (in Sacra-tomato) right after “Can’t Buy a Thrill”: am jealous for his memories.

    You just can’t categorize Steely Dan: they were that original. In no particular order, some other faves (not yet posted here): [Was crushing on a girl w/ this name (traditional spelling) a couple of years ago: damn, did this song, well, come back to me! (haven’t met any Pegs yet)] [I was 19 when this came out. While miffed at the implication that someone of my age wouldn’t know who “‘retha Franklin” was, it’s still a great song.]

  • JCF

    Two years ago (in a galaxy far, far away. Sigh), Joe had this post:

    With this video: still worth another look (hope Walter got to see it!).

  • JCF
  • mikeinftl

    Been a Dan Fan since the first album, they were one of the few bands whose albums I would buy without hearing anything from it. I finally got to see them live a number of years ago Michael McDonald was the warm up and came on sang a few with them. RIP Walter.

  • castaway

    “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” always struck a special chord with this life long fan. That was on the Katy Lied album. My very first record purchase was Aja back in the mid 70’s. And I grooved to their music on my Radio Shack transistor AM radio.