Steely Dan Fans, Donald Fagen Pay Tribute to Walter Becker’s ‘Knack of Creative Mimicry’

Becker was praised for his work in one of the most innovative bands of the 70s

Last Updated: September 4, 2017 @ 7:09 AM

Fans of Steely Dan gathered online to honor the life of the band’s guitarist and co-founder, Walter Becker, who died on Sunday at age 67.

Joining them was Donald Fagen, who founded Steely Dan with Becker in 1972 and honored Becker in a statement, praising his bandmate for being “smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter.”

“Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art,” Fagen wrote. “He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.”

Steely Dan was known as one of the most innovative bands of the 1970s, combining rock with jazz to produce platinum-selling albums like “Aja” and legendary songs like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

Fans honored Becker’s legacy with personal memories of attending Steely Dan concerts or or even played the band’s songs themselves.

Other paid tribute with fan art depicting him with Fagen in the style of the “Peanuts” comics.

Check out their tributes and Fagen’s full statement below

Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

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.

Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

Donald Fagen
September 3 2017

For the record: A previous version of this post misspelled Donald Fagen’s name.