Damn... Walter Becker passed away today, the guy with the magic guitar sound, somewhere between rock, jazz, and funk, that the moment you heard it, you knew who it was. That Walter Becker... Rikki Don't Lose that Number, Show Biz Kids, Reelin' in the Years, Aja, Peg... King of the World.
Walter was king of the studio and king of the guitar, a professor of the fretboard and master of the unexpected note. In the 70s, Steely Dan would come on my local station, St. Louis' KSHE 95 - Real Rock Radio - and it always connected, always took the set to a new level. Steely Dan was different from any band, a genre to themselves that nobody could really imitate. If I were to pick one rock band that will still sound new and relevant 100 years from now, Steely Dan would be the one.
From Reuters obituary today: "Born in New York City in 1950, Becker grew up revering the jazz giants Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He and Fagen would bond over their love of this music after meeting as students at Bard College in New York in 1967.
“We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a moldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm,” Fagen said in a statement on Sunday published by Variety.
After working as touring musicians they moved to Los Angeles, releasing the first Steely Dan album in 1972, “Can’t Buy a Thrill.” The band took their name from a fanciful dildo that appears in the beat novelist William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch.”
The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2001, where their official biography describes their 1970s albums as “wry, nuanced and hyper-literate” that are “highly regarded by connoisseurs of pop hooks, jazz harmony and desiccating wit.”
That says it well, but it still can't capture the feeling of a Steely Dan song, any song, when it comes on. Meaty, pure, elevating, clean, modern, fulfilling. And now the engine of all of that is gone. Walter Becker. May he rest in peace and his guitar licks last forever.
Aged well, no?
With the Band
Super Cool in the 70s
Their Best in my opinion
The Grammy. They deserved a dozen.
Aja was maybe their most contemplative album
I'm a fool to do your dirty work... oh yeah.
Go to Las Vegas....
Long live Walter's music
I can't imagine a nicer story about a man like Walter than the one Rickie Lee Jones penned for Rolling Stone Magazine. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/read-rickie-lee-jones-poignant-tribute-to-walter-becker-w501078
Bonus: Listen to Rickie's version of Show Biz Kids on YouTube. It's the best.