|Steely Dan - Becker and Fagan|
The foundation of the group was to write, and produce rock songs with a hint of rhythm and blues, and jazz. And they were very good at that.
Becker originally played saxophone, but took guitar lessons from his neighbor Randy Wolfe (aka Randy California of the group Spirit). Becker had a troubled childhood. He attended Bard College in New York, and it was there that he met fellow student Donald Fagan. Fagan heard him playing electric guitar and asked if he wanted to start a band. This prompted the two guys to begin writing songs together.
They originally played covers of some not-so-well-known songs, along with their own compositions. One of the drummers in this early group was comedy star Chevy Chase.
|Jay and the Americans 1965|
|Streisand - I Mean To Shine|
Along with Fagan and Becker were guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, drummer Jim Hodges, and singer David Palmer, who joined as a singer when Fagan was unable to overcome his stage-fright. They recorded a single called Dallas, that tanked.
|Can't Buy A Thrill|
Their 1974 album, Pretzel Logic, had the hit, Rikki Don’t Loose That Number. During this era, Becker and Fagan wanted to concentrate on writing and producing, so the did not want to tour.
Members of their band left and were replaced by session men, including Michael McDonald, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, sax player Phil Woods, bass player Winton Felder, and some members of the group that would go on to become Toto.
The men were asked to write the music for a movie called FM, which became another hit song.
During most of 1978, Becker and Fagan took a break, but were writing songs for the album Gaucho.
But internal disagreements caused Steely Dan to disband in 1981.
Walter Becker moved to Hawaii and purchased an avacado farm. He also quit using drugs and became sober. Becker occasionally produced recordings for other artists, including Rikki Lee Jones.
In 1986 Becker and Fagan performed together on an album by Rosie Vela, and artist signed by their former manager, Gary Katz. The record was called Zazu.
Subsequent tours took place in 2000 and 2003. Fagan continued to perform, sometimes with Becker.
Becker released his solo LP, Circus Money, in 2008.
|Becker's Final Performance|
The Steely Dan band played its final performance with Walter Becker on May 27th. Becker was supposed to join Fagan for more shows, but had to cancel for undisclosed reasons.
Becker passed away on Sunday, September 3, 2017, due to an undisclosed illness. He left behind an approximate net worth of $17.0 million. He leaves behind his wife Elinor and his two children.
Throughout his career, Becker's on stage guitars and basses were usually Gibson or Fender style instruments.
|Becker with Epiphone acoustic|
One of the earliest pictures shows Becker on an acoustic archtop Epiphone Broadway guitar.
|Becker with Fender Bass|
Here is Becker with a modified PJ Fender bass. Baxter is playing the Telecaster.
|Becker with Gibson Thunderbird bass|
In a later photo from that era, Becker is playing a modified Gibson Thunderbird bass.
|Becker with a Sadowsky bass|
We do not see many photos of Walter Becker playing an instrument until he and Fagan got back together in 1986.
|Walter Becker - Grimes Guitar|
|Sadowsky Walter Becker Signature model|
This guitar also has a push-pull EQ control, and a 5 position slider switch to control its three P90 style pickups. Becker also has a similar model with twin humbuckers.
Becker also played an all mahogany Telecaster-style guitar made by New York luthier Chihoe Hahn.
|Mid-2000 Fender No-Caster|
Becker occasionally used a Fender mid 2000 relic'd No-caster in concerts.
|Hahn Stratocaster Model|
Becker played several Stratocaster-style guitars that were also made by Hahn Guitars.
Becker also owns and tours with a unique single pickup guitar made by Frye Guitars of Green Bay, Wisconsin by luthier Ben Frye.
|Blue Sadowsky Strat|
Becker seemed to be very fond of Sadowsky Stratocaster-style guitars.
|Sunburst Sadowsky Strat|
|Fano Alt de facto|
Becker also owned and played a Fano Alt de facto RB6 guitar that is equipped with twin Lindy Fralin P90 style pickups and a unique "ToneStyler" control.
|Becker's Flying Vee|
Becker also owned, but seldom played a Gibson Flying Vee, which was based on the original 1958 model.
As the early touring band only existed for around two years, most all of the groups music took place in the studio using session guitarists. These included Dean Parks, who is one of LA's busiest session men.
Probably the best known session player for Steely Dan was Mr. 335, Larry Carlton. Carlton's first appearance was on the song Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More from the Katy Lied Album. Carlton reappeared on the groups fifth album; Royal Scam, where his excellent licks were on Kid Charlemagne. He was an important part of the Steely Dan sound.
A lesser known session player for Steely Dan was Rick Derringer, who appeared on the Katy Lied LP.
Another popular session player of that era was guitarist, Jay "Wah-wah" Graydon. The only track he played on was their hit Peg.
Guitarist Hugh McCracken was hired to play rhythm on Kathy Lied.
Guitarist Steve Khan played on both the Aja and Gaucho albums. For him it must have been like going back in time since he was an original member of Steely Dan.
Jazz player and session man Lee Ritenour was also a session player called up for the Aja LP.
LA Bass veteran, Chuck Rainey, was called up to do the bass guitar part on Peg.
Click on the links below the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
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