Walter Becker was an American musician, songwriter, and record producer.
Let’s find out some facts about him!
1. Walter Carl Becker was born February 20, 1950 in Queens, New York City and grew up in Westchester County and Forest Hills, Queens.
2. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan in the class of 1967.
3. After starting out on saxophone, he switched to guitar and received instruction in blues technique from neighbor Randy Wolfe.
4. Becker met his long-time musical partner, Donald Fagen, while attending Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
5. While at Bard, Becker and Fagen formed and played in a number of groups, including the Leather Canary, which also included fellow student Chevy Chase on drums.
6. At the time, Chase called the group “a bad jazz band.
7. Becker left the school in 1969 prior to completing his degree and moved with Fagen to Brooklyn, where the two began to build a career as a songwriting duo.
8. This period included a stint with Jay and the Americans under pseudonyms and the composition of the soundtrack to You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat, a Richard Pryor film released in 1971.
9. After a brief period of activity in New York, the two relocated to California in 1971 and formed the nucleus of Steely Dan, who enjoyed a critically and commercially successful 10-year career.
10. Following the group’s dissolution, Becker moved to Hawaii and reduced his musical activity, working primarily as a record producer.
11. In 1985, he briefly became a member of the British sophisti-pop group China Crisis, producing and playing synthesizer on their record Flaunt the Imperfection.
12. Becker and Fagen reformed Steely Dan in 1993 and had remained active, most notably including their 2000 Two Against Nature album, which won four Grammy Awards. Becker also released two solo albums, 1994’s 11 Tracks of Whack and 2008’s Circus Money.
13. On September 3, 2017, Becker’s official website reported that he had died. No cause of death or other details have been announced.
14. Musicians such as Julian Lennon, Steve Lukather, and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats made public statements mourning Becker’s death
15. Bandmate Donald Fagen issued a memorial letter praising Becker’s talent and remarking that 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.” Fagen added that he “intend[s] to keep the music we created together alive”.