MADRID – Tributes to Walter Becker, co-founder of American rock band Steely Dan who has died aged 67, poured in from around the world on Monday.
The New York-born guitar player died on Sunday from an unspecified condition, Becker’s website and his fellow band co-founder Donald Fagen said.
“Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter,” Fagen said in a statement. “I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can, both with the Steely Dan band. We’ll miss him forever,” Fagen added.
Becker had not joined Steely Dan during concerts played in July as he recovered, Fagen had said at the time.
“Walter’s recovering from a procedure and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon,” Fagen said.
Fagen and Becker began playing music together while attending college in New York in the late 1960s and later formed the band in California alongside guitarists Jeff Baxter and Denny Dias, drummer Jim Hodder and singer David Palmer.
The band – Steely Dan – was named after a metal-covered sex toy mentioned in William S. Burroughs’ book “Naked Lunch” and its first album “Can’t Buy a Thrill” was released to critical acclaim in 1972.
Among the tributes was a moving account of hearing Steely Dan’s music for the first time by singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones.
“Sexy. Contained. Because what ‘the Dan’ accomplished was this: They introduced a new idea into the musical conversation of the time. It was the idea that intelligent music was cool,” said Lee Jones.
Becker, who played bass to provide some of the band’s complex and often jazz-influenced rhythms, remained a key member while other musicians came and went.
Steely Dan split up in 1981 but reunited in 1993 and released two new records, with one of them, “Two Against Nature,” winning a Grammy award for album of the year in 2000.
“Steely Dan changed the way I understand music forever,” said John Darnielle of American indie band the Mountain Goats in a Twitter statement.
“I started writing songs under the name ‘the Mountain Goats’ the same month that I bought ‘Katy Lied’ on tape and started obsessing over it,” he said. “Safe travels along the cosmos to Walter Becker: you changed my life.”