Walter Becker, the co-founder, guitarist and bassist of the band Steely Dan, died Sunday at the age of 67.
The news was announced on Becker’s official website. No cause of death or further details were provided.
In July, Becker missed both of Steely Dan’s performances due to an unspecified ailment during the recent Classic West and Classic East concerts in Los Angeles and New York. His Steely Dan partner Donald Fagen later told Billboard that Becker was “recovering from a procedure” and hopefully would be “fine very soon,” but did not elaborate on Becker’s surgery or prognosis.
Becker, who was born in Queens, New York, met Fagen when they were both students at New York’s Bard College. The duo later moved to California to form Steely Dan in 1972 alongside guitarists Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Denny Dias, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer. (The band was named after a sex toy in William S. Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch.)
Becker, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Fagen in 2001, explained to Rolling Stone in 1974 that Steely Dan was focused on blurring the lines of jazz, pop, rock and soul.
“I’m not interested in a rock/jazz fusion,” he said. “That kind of marriage has so far only come up with ponderous results. We play rock & roll, but we swing when we play. We want that ongoing flow, that lightness, that forward rush of jazz.”
“All our lyrics are calculated and literary,” he continued. “They are not personal documents. We use autobiographical material, but the autobiography is not what the lyrics are about.”
“I don’t expect anyone to understand me the way I understand myself,” he added. “Whatever people get out of these songs, it’s fine.”