Steely Dan’s Quiet Hero: Inside Walter Becker’s Troubled Life, Wry Genius

(via Rolling Stone) by Henry Diltz

For years, anyone who wanted to use the bathroom while visiting Walter Becker’s studio in the countryside of Maui was directed outside. There, mounted on one of the walls of a white outhouse, they’d find a gold-record plaque for Steely Dan‘s Aja – which, over time, began oxidizing and tarnishing in the ocean air.

It was a prime example of the irreverence, unflashiness and dark humor that Becker, who died at 67 on September 3rd, displayed his whole life. There were few, if any, rock stars like him. He looked and acted like a droll college professor, and in conversation he could expound on Samuel Beckett’s plays, delve into the details of the Manhattan Project or rattle off the names of sidemen on obscure jazz records.

Becker was as much an architect of Steely Dan’s airtight sound and skewed sensibility as his friend, singer-keyboardist Donald Fagen. The two co-wrote the Dan’s songs, oversaw their legendary persnickety recording sessions, and shared a love of Beat writing, sci-fi and other topics that resulted in the parade of freaks and geeks that inhabited their songs. (With his long hair, wispy beard, and diffident air, Becker even resembled one of those weirdos, especially in his youth.) A behind-the-scenes maestro, Becker often let others play his parts on record, and few fans knew the dramatic arc of his life – his painful childhood, and the addiction, seclusion and rebirth he endured as an adult. “His relationships were difficult, and his relationship with life was difficult,” says a friend, American-born Hindu devotional singer Krishna Das. “But music was always there for him. It was the most dependable source of beauty he had in his life.”

Read more:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/steely-dans-quiet-hero-inside-walter-beckers-troubled-life-wry-genius-199094/

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