The music world is mourning the death of Walter Becker, the visionary bassist and guitarist who co-founded the '70s prog rock band Steely Dan. The first confirmation of Becker's passing came via his official website, which simply read, "Walter Becker: Feb. 20 1950 - September 03 2017".
Becker met his longtime musical collaborator Donald Fagen when both were attending Bard College.
In a statement released Sunday, Fagen wrote that Becker "was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically amusing".
A confluence of difficulties led to the band's dissolution in 1981. His passing was confirmed by a post on his personal website. Winning the Grammy for album of the year, Becker and Fagen proved they were still at the top of their game lyrically and musically.
While resisting the "jazz fusion" label, Becker acknowledged that jazz informed Steely Dan's way of recording - smooth and polished.
Becker told Rolling Stone in 1974. Witness the pair describe the contributions of drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie to Aja: the duo's admiration for how Purdie deepened their music is evident, undercutting the popular perception that Becker and Fagen were tyrannical dictators in the studio.
Like no other band, Steely Dan proved that jazz and rock could peacefully coexist. In 2001, Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The band continued producing albums throughout the 1970s, boasting songs penned by Fagen and Mr. Becker and music provided by some of the best session musicians in the business. They are all on the top albums chart this morning, along with a greatest hits package "A Decade of Steely Dan". Early in 1980, Becker's girlfriend died in his apartment of a drug overdose. While Fagen drove the band on records and stages with his resonant vocals and sardonic wit, Becker stoically backed his bandmate up first on bass and then on guitars, adding strong clarity and weight to the group's one-of-a-kind look and sound.
The answer is pretty simple: Steely Dan always favored "feel". The contrast between the gleaming surfaces of Steely Dan's records and the awful flaws exposed by their lyrics sounds less, these days, like a delicious irony, and more like a chronic poignancy.
If fans really want to honor Becker, they could also be buying his solo album "11 Tracks of Whack".