Walter Becker, co-founder of the legendary rock group Steely Dan, has passed away at the age of 67. His death was reported early this morning on his official website, though no cause of death was announced.
Becker and his musical partner Donald Fagen started collaborating in college and formed Steely Dan in the early ’70s. While the band’s lineup changed over the years, the pair were always the constant members. Becker played guitar and bass in the group, which melded Rock, Jazz and Pop with studio intricacies to score a number of hit singles in the ’70s and early ’80s, such as “Ricki Don’t Lose That Number,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” “Peg,” “Deacon Blues” and “Hey Nineteen.”
Steely Dan split up in 1981, in part due to Becker suffering through a number of personal issues, including drug addiction, leg injuries suffered after being hit by a car and the death of his girlfriend from a drug overdose.
After the breakup, Becker moved to Hawaii to beat his problems with drug use and gradually returned to the music world as a producer. He and Fagen eventually reunited and Steely Dan officially reconvened in 1993, releasing two more studio albums in 2000 and 2003. The band had toured regularly ever since. Becker also released two solo records, 1994’s 11 Tracks of Whack and 2008’s Circus Money. Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Steely Dan played this year’s Classic West and Classic East festivals without Becker. Fagen told Billboard last month that Becker had been “recovering from a procedure and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.”