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Walter Becker
Birth name Walter Carl Becker
Born 20 February 1950 (1950-02-20) (age 60)
Origin Queens, New York
Genres Rock, Jazz fusion
Occupations singer, songwriter, record producer, musician
Instruments bass, guitar, vocals
Years active 1971 – present
Labels ABC Records
MCA Records
Giant/Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
Website Official Site

Walter Carl Becker (born February 20, 1950 in Queens, New York) is an American musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the co-founder, guitarist, bassist and a co-writing half of the duo which make up the rock band Steely Dan.

Contents

Career

Becker grew up in Westchester County and Forest Hills, Queens and is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, class of 1967.[1] After starting out on saxophone, he switched to guitar and received instruction in blues technique from neighbor Randy Wolfe who, as Randy California, played with Jimi Hendrix and was soon to found the group, Spirit.

He met his long-time musical partner, the other half of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, while attending Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Becker and Fagen formed and played in a number of groups, including one called The Leather Canary, which also included the now famous actor/comedian Chevy Chase on drums. At the time, Chase called the group "a bad jazz band."[2] Becker and Fagen's youthful career also included a stint with Jay and the Americans under pseudonyms prior to relocating to California and forming Steely Dan. Initially a full-fledged group and later distilled to the Becker-Fagen partnership augmented with numerous studio musicians, the band released seven successful albums in its initial ten-year career. In addition to co-writing all of the band's material, Becker played bass on many of the band's tracks, as well as providing guitar solos, rhythm guitar, occasional backing vocals and arrangements.

Following Steely Dan's breakup in 1981, Becker moved to Hawaii, and began a career as a record producer, producing records from Rickie Lee Jones, China Crisis and Michael Franks. Becker is actually credited as one of five official members of China Crisis on the sleeve of their 1985 album Flaunt the Imperfection, which he also produced; he also produced tracks on their 1989 album Diary of a Hollow Horse, although he is not credited as a band member on that release.

Becker reunited with Fagen briefly to collaborate on the debut album of U.S. singer, former fashion model Rosie Vela. Their partnership properly resumed in the mid-1990s as they undertook a tour under the Steely Dan moniker in 1993, effectively reuniting the band. Becker also produced Fagen's album Kamakiriad in that year as well. In turn, Fagen co-produced Becker's belated solo debut album, 1994's 11 Tracks of Whack.

Steely Dan continued touring, and their work on new material resulted in the first Steely Dan studio album in two decades, 2000's Two Against Nature. The album won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. The duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The next Steely Dan record, Everything Must Go followed in 2003, featuring Becker's bass work on all tracks, as well as the first studio Steely Dan track with a lead vocal by Becker, "Slang of Ages". The band spent the following years touring behind their back catalog.

Becker was later inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame[3] on October 30, 2008. Becker's second solo album, Circus Money, was released on June 10, 2008.[4] The album prominently featured Becker's bass playing, performances by much of the Steely Dan backing band, and work by producer Larry Klein (who received co-composition credits on all but one song). The songs were heavily inspired by reggae and other Jamaican music.[5]

Solo discography

Other works

Becker produced Fra Lippo Lippi's 1987 Norwegian single, "Angel", as well as the 1985 China Crisis album, Flaunt The Imperfection. In 2005, Becker co-produced and played bass on the Krishna Das album All One. Becker played solo guitar on the title track of the 2005 Rebecca Pidgeon album Tough on Crime. Madeleine Peyroux's 2006 album Half the Perfect World featured a single, "I'm All Right", that was co-written by Becker with Peyroux and producer Larry Klein. Peyroux's 2009 album Bare Bones contains two songs co-written by Becker: the very Steely Dan-esque, "You Can't do Me" and the title-track "Bare Bones".

Awards

In 2001, both Becker and Fagen received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Berklee College of Music. They both accepted their degrees in person.[6]

References

  1. ^ Sweet, Brian. "Steely Dan", p. 11. Omnibus Press, 2000. ISBN 0711982791. Accessed June 18, 2009. "Walter Becker was born on Monday, February 20, 1950, in the Forest Hills area of Queens in New York."
  2. ^ Fruchter, Rena. I'm Chevy Chase...and You're Not. Virgin Books, 2007.
  3. ^ Limusichalloffame.org
  4. ^ Walterbecker.com
  5. ^ Mixonline.com
  6. ^ Berklee College of Music: Commencement 2001 - Photographs, retrieved 15 October 2007

External links

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