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.”
RIP Walter Becker.Steely Dan had a huge influence on my musical career. Writing, playing, producing – I did my best to…
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
""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…
“Gary took me to see Steely Dan (my first time) the summer before we got married. 4 years later, I found myself standing at a piano next to Shelly Berg, piecing together with him what would become one of my favorite songs on my new album. It’s nearly impossible to cover a Steely Dan song and retain its genius. I don’t claim to have done that, but along with Shelly, Gregg Field, Kevin Axt, Don Murray, and the legendary Dean Parks, we created something very special, and close to my heart. Though this hasn’t been mastered or released yet, I share it with love, compassion, and respect to Walter Becker, his family, and his bandmates.”
Lorna, John Beasley’s wife, posted a link to a Billboard article in which John talks about his work and friendship with Walter Becker.
“I worked on several other projects he produced, and he always had interesting things to say and I started to realize that all those left turns in Steely Dan music, that this was the guy that maybe inspired all those kind of fast turns — left turns, I called them back then — the uneven phrases, maybe, or sort of a jump or modulation out of nowhere, that kind of thing. He was so creative and unusual that way. he wasn’t like your normal songwriting form or anything like that. He loved those surprises.”
On September 3rd, upon awaking to the news of Walter’s passing, I found myself at a loss for words, and filled with a strange deep sorrow. One of the most dominant bricks in my musical foundation was no more an email or phone call away. We are all devastated, here at chez Randall, and I suspect the fog won’t lift for a while.
Continue reading here >> Farewell, Walter or check out the embedded Facebook post below.
“You loved music more than anyone I know. You’re always there bobbing your head to each beat, doing a little dance here and there, or sitting over there with your big head phones on and swaying back and forth. I could see it, your dissecting the song — listening in closely for each beat , for each musical instrument — you know, whatever you musicians do. But I get it.
Every road trip without fail came The Pit Stop at some guitar store. Heck, dad, I keep telling you why don’t you just own your own store? Five hours go by as I sit watching you fiddle with a guitar here and there…yet you never end up buying one. I understand though; it was your fun place, like an arcade; playing all you can, and as loud as you can. Your candy shop.”
Grammy-winning trumpeter/composer/producer/arranger Michael Leonhart has performed/recorded with Yoko Ono, James Brown, Meryl Streep, Caetano Veloso, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Steely Dan and the Charles Mingus Big Band. Michael’s trumpet playing was recently featured on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ smash hit “Uptown Funk”.
In the spirit of these renowned artists who have continually kept an eye on politics and human rights issue, Michael crafted “Ronald Rump” with his Michael Leonhart Orchestra, a form of political satire using the uniquely brazen dialogue of Donald Trump from the public domain, featuring Nelson Cline on guitar!