Walter Becker, co-founder of the powerful jazz-rock group Steely Dan, died on Sunday at age 67, according to his site, which failed to disclose the reason for death.

Becker, who played lead guitar, formed Steely Dan with Donald Fagen, its keyboardist and lead vocalist. In its heyday in the 1970s, the group scored hits with “Reelin’ in the Years,” “Do It Again,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Deacon Blues.”

Born in New York in 1950, Becker grew up revering the jazz giants Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He and Fagen would bond over their love of the music after meeting as students at Bard College in New York in 1967.

“We began writing nutty little music on an upright piano in a small sitting area in the lobby of Ward Manor, a moldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the school used as a dorm,” Fagen said in a statement on Sunday published by Variety.

After working as touring musicians that they moved to Los Angeles, releasing the first Steely Dan album in 1972, “Can’t get a Thrill.” The group took their name from a fanciful dildo that looks from the beat novelist William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch.”

The group was inducted into the Rock amp; Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2001, where their official biography describes their 1970s records as “wry, nuanced and hyper-literate” which are “highly regarded by connoisseurs of pop hooks, jazz harmony and desiccating wit.”

Fagen explained his bandmate on Sunday as “cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny{}”

“Like lots of children from families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, studying people’s hidden psychology and altering what he saw into bubbly, incisive artwork,” Fagen’s statement said.

After a lengthy hiatus, the group reunited in the late 1990s to record its first studio album in 20 years, according to the Steely Dan site. This album, “Two Against Nature,” goes on to win Album of the Year in 2000 at the Grammy Awards.

Becker missed concerts earlier in the year as he recovered from an unspecified medical process, Fagen told Billboard.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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