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Walter Becker, introspective rocker of Steely Dan, dies at 67

September 4, 2017 at 6:10 PM EDT
Steely Dan co-founder and guitarist Walter Becker died Sunday at 67. He formed Steely Dan in 1971 and introduced a unique sound in rock, with hits such as “Do it Again” and “Reeling’ in the Years.” John Yang remembers the artist.
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JOHN YANG: There was another loss in the world of arts and letters. Steely Dan co-founder and guitarist Walter Becker also died yesterday. He was instrumental in producing the funky melodies and enigmatic lyrics that captivated an avid following for the band.

Becker and Donald Fagen, a friend from Bard College, founded Steely Dan in 1971. The band’s first album produced a unique sound in rock with memorable hits such as “Do It Again” and “Reelin’ in the Years.”

Becker’s bass and guitar licks would become a signature of the band’s jazz-infused sound. Famously introspective, Becker rarely sought the spotlight. Steely Dan only toured for two years after their 1972 debut, choosing to focus on producing records.

The band stopped recording in 1981, returning in 1993.

In a statement, Fagen called Becker “smart as a whip, hysterically funny and cynical about human nature, including his own.”

Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Here’s Becker and Fagen performing one of their hits, “Peg,” on a 2000 broadcast on PBS.

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JOHN YANG: Walter Becker was 67 years old.

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