you are currently on    
[ go to bio discussion @   w a l t e r b e c k e r m e d i a . c o m
   [ go to @  w b  u n i v e r s i t y
.     .
  About Walter Becker Walter Becker then and now

Walter Carl Becker (Feb. 20, 1950 - Sept. 03, 2017), was an American musician, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, and record producer who grew up in Queens, New York, on what was co-named Walter Becker Way in 2018. A brief childhood move to Scarsdale was remedied with a rapid rebound to the royal borough.


Contemporaries recall he arrived at Stephen A. Halsey Junior High School with a reputation ("In NYC you can get a big reputation in the 6th grade"). Becker moved on to attend the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, having impressed his fellows with a scary intelligence, withering wit, and a nuanced musical and literary vocabulary. [1]


At Bard College in 1971, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met when Fagen overheard Becker playing blues guitar on his red Epiphone in one of the school's common rooms. The pair would eventually form the jazz-rock band Steely Dan, creating a musical catalog fêted by critics, fans, and fellow musicians. His partnership with Fagen produced a body of work that has sustained a devoted audience for 50 years, continuing to this day.

DF WB at Bard

Steely Dan V.I sold more than 40 million albums and helped define the soundtrack of the '70s with hits such as "Reelin' in the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," "F.M.," "Peg," "Hey Nineteen," "Deacon Blues," and "Babylon Sisters," culled from their seven platinum albums issued between 1972 and 1980 — including 1977's ground breaking Aja. (SD Discographies [with lyrics] are here and here).

Steely Dan

Once Steely Dan dissolved in 1981, and finding himself outside the confines of a recording studio for the first time in nearly a decade, Becker moved to Hawaii announcing his intention to become a 'gentleman avocado farmer'; perhaps not surprisingly, most journalists were deaf to his irony. But fantasy sod-busting notwithstanding, the lure of music led him back to the studio as producer for artists including Rickie Lee Jones, Michael Franks, China Crisis, Lost Tribe, and a stable of diverse jazz artists. Becker's full production credits are here. [2]


During this time, his passion for the studio was exceeded only by his love for his children — the true light of his life. He and his family made their home on Maui's windy North Shore.

 Sa and Kawai Becker Channel One, Maui

Some of the music Walter produced during this time was recorded at "Hyperbolic Sound", the professional studio he built on the slopes of Maui's dormant Haleakala volcano. It was there he began recording his debut solo album 11 Tracks of Whack (1994). [3]

Of this freshman venture, New York Times critic Jon Pareles — who included 11 Tracks of Whack in his Top 10 List of 1994 — wrote: "Fifteen years later, we find out who put the edge into Steely Dan. It was Walter Becker ... On his first solo album, 11 Tracks of Whack, Becker brings back everything fans cherished about Steely Dan." Lots of regular folk —  like most reviewers — seem to like it too.

11 Tracks of Whack Walter Becker

Having traded production credits with Fagen on their early 90's solo releases, the two launched over a dozen sold-out Steely Dan tours which continued into 2017. They returned to the studio in the late '90s, and in 2000 Steely Dan released the multi-Grammy winner (including Album of the Year) Two Against Nature, releasing its follow-up, Everything Must Go in 2003. They received the ASCAP Founder's Award in 2000 and, after a multi-year campaign to bribe themselves in, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Steely Dan Grammy

In 2008 Becker released his second and final solo album, Circus Money, produced by and co-written with Larry Klein. CM Reviewers described the album as: "melodic, funky and as smart as you like" (John Bungey, The Times); a "soulful, groove-driven CD ... played to perfection" (Mike Perciaccante, All About Jazz); "immaculately played, produced and conceived" (Neil McKay, Belfast Telegraph); and "a joy to behold ... tunes so beautifully arch they'd make you cry if you weren't laughing at the lyrics" (Paul Zolo, American Songwriter). Elysa Gardner of USA Today asked, "Who says that they don't make pop music for grownups anymore?" Once again, regular folk also registered their appreciation through online reviews. [4]

Walter Becker Circus Money

In subsequent decades, Becker continued to write, produce, and enjoy several songwriting collaborations, now firmly informed by a new mantra: "the perfect is the enemy of the good". He continued to tour with Fagen as Steely Dan backed a celebrated band of crackerjack players through mid-2017. His website announced his death from an aggressive esophageal cancer on September 3, 2017.

Walter Becker photo: Amanda Parks

In a later statement, his wife Delia wrote in part:

The tsunami of tributes and remembrances that have followed Walter's passing has been deeply moving. I would... not have predicted anything close to the depth and breadth of public expressions from those whose lives were enriched by Walter — by his talent, his kindness, and his skill at inspiring some wicked fun. 

Becker's brand of wicked fun was evident almost everywhere perhaps most reliably during his nightly live "Hey 19 Raps" and throughout his extraordinary written output on Steely Dan's website 1996-2017 a complete archive of which can be found at the SD Web Archive Site.
Walter Becker

The Official, established by Becker in 2006, is updated regularly and dispatches the Official Walter Becker Newsletter. It also houses Walter Becker University (WBU), a growing library of reference material including biography, playing credits, production projects, guest appearances, discographies, and deep-dives by its most ardent students.

In keeping with Walter's wishes, his estate is also offering free, hi-fidelity downloads of his demos and unreleased songs at  Walter Becker Media. This site also includes discussion boards where Beckerphiles discuss Walter's solo work, discovering the breadth and depth of his talent and sharing an appreciation for his innovative creativity. Links to other WB-Estate-sponsored web pages can be found here.

Utterly sui generis; equal parts science and soul; approachable enigma; mordant humanist; singular, sublime, and just a little warped — Walter left an outsized-impression on anyone who heard, read, met, or knew him. Inarguably, Walter Becker was a musician, writer, and man of astonishing influence and power.

WB Lives.
  Walter Becker photo: Danny Clinch

Walter Carl Becker
wb in the clouds

  Photo: Sandrine Lee
    you are currently on  
[ go to bio discussion @   w a l t e r b e c k e r m e d i a . c o m
 [ go to @  w b  u n i v e r s i t y