June 21, 1981: Steely Dan Disband

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Steely Dan in 1977: Walter Becker (l.) and Donald Fagen

Despite naming the band after a dildo in the William Burroughs novel Naked Lunch, often obtuse lyrics, musically complex compositions and arrangements that frequently drew from jazz, and an expressed disdain for most pop and rock music, the group led by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker enjoyed a strong run of success in the 1970s.

Steely Dan scored such Top 10 singles as “Do It Again,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Hey Nineteen,” enjoyed considerable popularity on FM album radio, and racked up seven platinum albums. On this day in ’81 they announced that they were breaking up.

Becker and Fagen reunited in 1993 to tour in support of the latter’s Kamakiriad solo release. In 2000 they released the first new Steely Dan album in 20 years, Two Against Nature, which won four Grammy Awards and became their eighth million-seller.

Steely Dan are one of six classic rock bands in the lineup for The Classic East and West concerts taking place this summer at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Citi Field in New York City. The headliners are the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, and they’ll be joined by Journey, the Doobie Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire. For tickets to the Classic East click here. For the Classic West… here.

Fagen has an extensive solo tour this summer that begins August 3. Steely Dan also have two dates in October as part of Blues Fest 2017, the 28th at the 3Arena in Dublin and the 29th at the O2 Arena in London.

Related: Details on Donald Fagen’s 2017 solo tour

Here’s a 1973 performance from The Midnight Special; please ignore the host’s intro…

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