Walter Becker, co-founder of Steely Dan, dies at 67

Walter Becker, the co-founder, guitarist and bassist of Steely Dan, an act known for its wry nature and its low-key musical proficiency, has died. He was 67.

No cause of death was revealed. His passing was first announced via his official website, and early Sunday his longtime musical partner Donald Fagen issued a statement in which he pledged to keep Steely Dan’s music alive.

Fagen praised his partner as “smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter.”

Becker had recently missed the band’s July performances in Los Angeles and New York as part of the Classic West and Classic East festivals. “He took ill shortly before he was to come to California,” Fagen said on stage at Dodger Stadium on July 15. “We wish him a speedy recovery.”

Steely Dan, formed in the early ‘70s after Becker and Fagen met at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., was known for its ability to incorporate jazz and R&B into often patient and calming arrangements that were full of unexpected detours. The band’s ornately produced albums, such as 1974’s “Pretzel Logic” and 1977’s “Aja,” became chart hits.

The band drifted after the release of 1980’s “Gaucho,” but reunited in 1993 and in 2000 released its first studio album in two decades with “Two Against Nature.” The album would eventually win the Grammy Award for album of the year, and Steely Dan remained a touring force.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Comedian Kyle Mooney (”Saturday Night Live”) is 33 … Beyoncé Knowles is 36 … DJ-music producer Mark Ronson is 42 … Guitarist Kim Thayil of Soundgarden is 57 … Actor-comedian Damon Wayans is 57 … Bassist Ronald LaPread (The Commodores) is 67.

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