Walter Becker, the co-founder of Steely Dan, has died at the age of 67.
The guitarist’s passing was confirmed by a post on his website, which simply displayed two images of Becker in his childhood and in later life along with the dates ‘feb. 20 1950 — sept. 03 2017′. A cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
Becker’s Steely Dan bandmate Donald Fagen paid tribute to the late guitarist in a statement.
“Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967,” Fagen wrote in a statement published on Rolling Stone.
“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.”
Becker formed Steely Dan with Fagen after the pair moved to California in the early 1970s, with the band releasing their debut album ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’ in 1972.
The New York-born musician played both guitar and bass in Steely Dan, while also contributing backing vocals. Along with lead vocalist and keyboardist Fagen, the two remained Steely Dan’s only core members throughout their career.
Steely Dan, who became a studio-only outfit after retiring from touring in 1974, released six more albums (including 1977’s multi-platinum ‘Aja’) before initially splitting in 1981. Fagen and Becker reunited in 1993 to resurrect Steely Dan, and released two more albums – the most recent being 2003’s ‘Everything Must Go’ – while also resuming touring duties in recent years.
The band were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Fagen and Becker took the opportunity at the prizegiving ceremony to take questions from the audience – you can see footage of that moment below.
Becker also released two solo albums: ’11 Tracks of Whack’ (1994) and 2008’s ‘Circus Money’.
Tributes from the music and entertainment world have poured in for Becker following news of his passing – see a selection of tweets below.
rest in peace WALTER BECKER, one half of the team i aspire to everytime I sit down at a piano. thank you for your unparalleled contribution
— Mark Ronson (@MarkRonson) September 3, 2017
Holy crap, Walter Becker has died (per NYT). Half of most amazing musical duo since Lennon/McCartney. RIP.
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) September 3, 2017
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"…..still holds the crown baby" rip #WalterBecker possibly one of my favorite architects of the 70s "FM" smooth sound. Took it for granted growing up —before 10 I heard his music & Fagen's voice EVERYWHERE: supermarket, waiting rooms everywhere, cabs, offices, dentist chair, sporting events even (Sixers used to RUN "Peg" during Dr J's era) actually lol first time I got sent to principles office in 2nd grade was for "saying a bad word" (Hell, was a 4 letter word growing up & I didn't know who or what a "Peg" was but I knew someone in my class was going to 🎵"Helllllllllllllllllll"🎵 The first time we played w Michael McDonald a second after "man it's an honor" came "ok how long did Walt make you stack them vocals?" Walt was my first post "hey I dig these guys I wanna get em on a session" gig shortly after our Do you Want More album came out. I was all ready for him to make me do take after take after take like I heard he was notorious for—but uh shockingly he liked our loose playing and encouraged it. (Yeah I even tried to tune my drums Steely Dan low but he was like "I want you to sound like you, not like what we were doing way back then") This is a major loss man. An artist's artist. Someone who cared for the craft of music and pushing boundaries. They got a name for the winners in the world: his name is Becker
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) September 3, 2017
RIP Walter Becker.
Travel Safe back home to the stars of which your soul arose.
We love and miss you. XO pic.twitter.com/U6rsOREMRI
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) September 3, 2017