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Music Business Remembers Walter Becker: ‘Icon and Wonderful Guy’

Walter Becker Steely Dan
WILLENS/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The death of Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker prompted an outpouring of admiration and mourning from his many fans across the spectrum of entertainment, from directors and talk show host to fellow musicians.

“We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues,” shared Donald Fagen, Becker’s longtime Steely Dan partner, keyboardist for the band.

Such eclectic tastes made the duo’s music a magnet for filmdom’s irony fans: Bobby and Peter Farrelly used songs from the “Aja” album as a plot driver for the 2000 film “Me, Myself & Irene.”  Science fiction author William Gibson called Becker “one of my favorite writers ever.”

Steely Dan’s songs were the “soundtrack to a lotta good times,” tweeted Joe Scarborough, guitarist and host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Grammy scripter and erstwhile Rolling Stone writer David Wild said Becker “opened up my mind musically and made being a wiseass a brave act of Pretzel Logic.”

Memorial homepage at WalterBecker.com on morning of longtime Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker's death at 67.

On the morning of his death, Becker’s homepage, WalterBecker.com, was switched to a simple diptych featuring an image of him as a child alongside one where the adult musician’s impish charm was unchanged.

Here are some of the reminisces across social media in tribute to a man who left a lasting impact on pop and rock.

Guitarist Larry Carlton, who played on four of Steely Dan’s classic albums, called him a musical icon.

“You changed my life,” said Ryan Adamson Instagram.

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Said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow: “With Steely Dan partner Donald Fagen, Walter Becker created some of the smartest, most artful rock to ever hit the charts. Brimming with irony and filed in with brush strokes of jazz and R&B, three of the group’s albums—1977’s Aja, 1980’s Gaucho, and 2000’s Two Against Nature—were nominated for the Album Of The Year GRAMMY®, with the latter winning the award. Walter and Steely Dan set the standard for sophisticated progressive pop, and he will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues.”