“feb. 20 1950 – sept. 03 2017”. Così viene annunciata la morte di Walter Carl Becker all’età di 67 anni. Le cause del decesso ancora non sono state rese note. Newyorchese del Queens, durante gli anni del Bard College incontra Donald Fagen con il quale nel 1972 fonderà gli Steely Dan. La storia è nota, come l’abuso in quegli anni di sostanze stupefacenti, fino allo split della band nel 1981 che segnerà anche la fine per Becker di uno stile di vita al limite. Nel 1993 la reunion che non avrà più fermate. Oltre alla carriera come produttore (ricordate i Fra Lippo Lippi?), Becker vanta due album solisti pubblicati nel 1994 e 2008.
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.
September 3, 2017