Walter Becker’s passing this past Sunday at the age of 67 has hit the music world hard. This includes Albumism’s Libby Cudmore, who pays her respects to the Steely Dan co-founder in this special tribute:
“They don’t play much from their newer albums, which is a shame, but Becker and Fagen, melodic in hand, moved to the center stage and busted out “Two Against Nature.” To me, there is no song more purely Becker/Fagen than this one, the lyrics a code only they understand. It was an oddly pure moment, as though the band wasn’t there, as though the audience wasn’t there, as if it was only the two of them on stage. We were witnessing magic, in a way. We were witnessing two friends recreating some goofy beatnik scene from a Bard College dorm room 50 years previous, before the studios and the stage lights, the Grammy awards and the praise. Maybe most of the audience didn’t get it. Maybe they just wanted to hear the hits. But Becker and Fagen didn’t care. This moment was for the two of them.”
If you can’t see the embedded post, click here >> Walter Becker, remembered and revered
Nate Patrin will no doubt take you on a trip of lingual pleasantries if you read his ode to the genius of Steely Dan out loud! You may want to check the volume of your device first before you hit play on the presented videos though. They’re all covers of Do It Again. We already found you a brand new, lush jazzy version by the lovely miss Kari Kirkland, and there are others not taken into consideration by Stereogum. Like Tori Amos:
Can’t see the embedded Stereogum post for some reason? Click here >> Stereogum’s got you covered
Brian Haner: “RIP Walter Becker. Steely Dan had a huge influence on my musical career. Writing, playing, producing – I did my best to absorb all of it. They were one of those few bands that the general public liked AND musicians respected. When I decided to play live again, the first 3 songs on my set-list were Steely Dan tunes. Their stuff is timeless.
My deepest condolences to Walter’s friends & family.”
Best known as Guitar Guy from The Jeff Dunham Show, Brian Haner is that perfect combination of skilled guitar player and stand-up comedian. Brian was part of the largest comedy tour in the world while on the road with Jeff, seen live by over 2 million people. He was also part of the Jeff Dunham Christmas Special, the highest rated show in the history of Comedy Central, seen by 20 million people. While many guitar comics simply play chords while they do their comedy act, Brian is a whole different kind of musician. Brian spent twenty-five years as a guitarist, recording and touring with musicians ranging from Avenged Sevenfold to Frank Zappa. Brian opened for The Jeff Dunham Tour on more than 500 shows, in just about every city in America, as well as South Africa, Australia, and a tour across Europe. Brian is now headlining clubs across the country in his own rock ‘n’ roll comedy show. With over 5 million views on his YouTube page, Brian has created a rabid fanbase for his live shows. He still does session work and is working on an original blues album slated for release in 2017. (source: Facebook)
“When I was 10 our family — my mother and I — moved from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Forest Hills. (The schools were better, my mother was told.) And I found myself the “new kid,” among strangers, whose habits made little sense to me, and with odd geographies to master. I was not happy, nor was I particularly pleasant. I withdrew into my books. I gained 10 pounds. To borrow a phrase: I was lost. Then I began to find companions. Comrades. Some of them are — and this is a blessing — still in my life today: Adam Duhan, Marc Levitt, Ken Lakritz, a few others. Who helped me navigate this new and unhappy land. And then there was Walter.”
continue reading here >> Howard A. Rodman remembers his old schoolfriend Walter
Howard A. Rodman is president of the Writers Guild of America West. He wrote the films Joe Gould’s Secret, Savage Grace, and August, and the novel Destiny Express. He is professor and former chair of the writing division of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
(excerpt published with permission of the author)
“In the early 1990s the group that I have co-led on and off since then – Lost Tribe – managed to get ourselves signed with a good label. This happened, in a big part, due to the support of Walter Becker. He heard our “demo” tape – given to him by Ben Perowsky – and, if memory serves, about “five minutes” later, we were signed. He brought the band to his incredibly beautiful studio in Maui to produce and record us for 2 weeks in 1993. He then asked a few of us to play on his first solo record, the recording of which commenced a few months later. We spent about 6 weeks exploring and recording the music for that record – “11 tracks of whack”- which I think is a subtle masterpiece. Words can’t describe what a thrill it was to hang and make music with him in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am SO grateful to have had these experiences. They are some of the most memorable in my life and, through them, I got to know Walter. I learned many valuable lessons about music working with him which I will always remember. His was among the most intelligent, biting and interesting WITS I have had the pleasure to interact with. He was an incredible conversationalist and.. off the hook hysterical. His and Donald’s music has had a profound effect on me since I was very young when I first heard “Peg” on AM radio in NYC. The sophistication in their music was a revelation to me. It’s been difficult these last few days as I am very, very sad to hear of his passing. I am also so grateful to have been able to spend as much time with him as I did. Rest in peace Walter. You will be so missed.”
For Adam’s Facebook post, scroll down some or click 6 weeks on Maui
There’s an outpour of condolences and memories and people paying their respect since the news of Walter Becker’s passing trickled into the world. We will attempt to present you some of the most endearing, or significant sound bites and articles to read as we’re accustomed to do in this peripheral Steely universe at Mizar6, or Mizar5 as we sometimes call it, still. From everything that’s out there, we will select those things that resonate the most, to us. If you have any ideas or suggestions, you can contact us via Facebook (click the widget in the side bar) and we’ll see how it pans out. For now, we have Dr. John for you, taking a stroll on memory lane on his Facebook page. The lengthy Rolling Stone interview dates back to March 30, 2000, and is worthwhile to read, especially now. The last line will send shivers, no doubt. And yes, really save it for last, will ya?
“”In May of 1989 Donald Fagen did a show for me with Dr. John at Elaine’s, of all places, and it was the first time he had performed in years. After that we decided to do our own show. It became the New York Rock and Soul Revue – until the beginning of ’92. And it brought Walter Becker to New York. He had come back to produce Donald’s album Kamakiriad, and then he was playing guitar onstage with Donald.” While doing the Rock and Soul Revue, Fagen and Becker began to feel that people were still interested in Steely Dan.” – Rolling Stone’s interview with Libby Titus describing Dr. John’s role in Steely Dan’s return. Rest in Peace, Walter Becker.
Denny Dias, who knew Becker and Fagen even before the three of them were part of the original version of Steely Dan, says, “Walter and Donald are one person with two brains. Walter keeps Donald from going off the deep end, from writing rondos and fugues that people might less want to hear than the music they write together. And lyrically Walter’s got that biting edge. Donald’s not nearly as sarcastic. When you put them together, the result has an edge, but it’s also got insight and compassion.”