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In MEMORIAM: Walter Becker{February 20th,1950~September 3rd 2017}

Greetings REWINDNation,

This past Sunday,September 3rd, the music world lost a MAJOR player,not a spectacular “POP” superstar or a music hit machine or anything like that. More like a silent GIANT,someone who you could probably walk up to and not even recognize at first,but his music and songs spoke volumes. Walter Becker,musician(lead,bass and rhythm guitar)songwriter,record producer and co-founder of Steely Dan died on Sunday Sept. 3rd,2017. No details were made available on how he passed. He first met with his longtime music writing partner and the other co-founder of Steely Dan,Donald Fagen while attending Bard University in New York. Fagen was walking past a student cafe’ and heard someone playing guitar. Fagen said the person played very “professionally”,he sounded like a black guy playing. He went over,introduced himself and the rest is history. Over a period of 40+ years,they released 9 albums and all but their last one has either gone platinum or gold. Becker and Fagen in early 1970 were recruited by guitarist Denny Dias to play in his band. Slowly but surely Walter and Donald started to take charge of the band that the band was no longer Dias’s,it was Becker and Fagen’s. In 1971,Walter and Donald moved to Los Angeles and asked Dias to join them. They brought in guitarist Jeff “Skunk”Baxter and drummer Jim Hodder and formed the “original” lineup of Steely Dan.In 1974 Becker and Fagen were tired of touring and wanted to be just a group that recorded albums only. This infuriated bandmates,Baxter and Hodder eventually left the band although Denny Dias continued to record with the band until 1980. Walter of course had his demons,which I won’t go into here but he fought thru them eventually. Unfortunately Walter’s personal life caught up to his musical life and he and Fagen split up after recording the album,”Gaucho” in which was released in 1980 after taking more than two years to complete. Donald Fagen went on to record the masterpiece LP,”The Nightfly” in 1982 and Walter moved to Hawaii to get clean from drugs. In 1993 Fagen and Becker reunited and Walter produced and played guitars for Donald Fagen’s 2nd solo LP,”Kamakiriad”.In turn Fagen produced and played keyboards on  Becker’s debut solo album,”11 Tracks of Whack” released in 1994. Although these two albums are considered solo efforts,both Becker and Fagen consider these albums Steely Dan “offshoot” projects. They “properly” got back together in 2000 and released the LP,”Two Against Nature”,their first album in 20 years. It was a huge success, reaching #6 on the Billboard Pop albums Charts and #11 on the UK Album Charts and went platinum. The LP went on to win four Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year,Best Pop Album Of The Year. They released one more album in 2003,”Everything Must Go” in which they also released a DVD on the making of the LP filming in Las Vegas for a “Special Edition” of the HBO series Taxicab Confessions with cabbie Rita acting as a sort of host and driver. Walter and Donald performed live together over the years but this past summer,Becker did not play in the Classics East concert at Citi Field,N.Y. or Classics West at Dodgers Stadium,Calif. due to illness. Becker had success in his own right as he was a sought after record producer,producing for such artist as Micheal Franks,Rikki Lee Jones,Rosie Vela among others. He and Fagen were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001,Becker himself was inducted into The Long Island Music Hall Of Fame in 2008. That year he also released his 2nd solo LP entitled,”Circus Money”,a reggae-inspired album. Walter leaves behind his wife, Elinor and two children. On a personal level,I quite frankly love Steely Dan and I consider their great songs  as a reason that I love music so much. and as deeply saddened of Walter’s passing,I do know this…his music and his body of work will last a lifetime!! ………    RIP Walter

                                                                                                      Leslie “LRob” Robinson

                                                                                                               9/7/2017

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