Donald Fagen Issues Statement on Walter Becker

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

Donald Fagen has issued the following statement on the passing of his partner in Steely Dan, Walter Becker, who died this morning at age 67:

“Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students 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.

“We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.  

“Walter had a very rough childhood — I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, 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. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter. 

“His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby Titus, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band. 

“I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.”


Best Classic Bands will update this story as other musicians share their thoughts and recollections on the late Walter Becker.

Listen to Walter Becker’s “Down in the Bottom” from his first solo album, 1994’s 11 Tracks of Whack

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Sol
    #1 Sol 3 September, 2017, 15:56

    My favorite band! R.I.P. Walter. The world lost a musical genius today! I am heartbroken.

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  2. hans altena
    #2 hans altena 4 September, 2017, 02:22

    Unknowing of this I had an urge to listen to all my Steely Dan albums yesterday afternoon while writing, now this tragic news hits me and I am touched by this moving reaction of Fagen.

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