Steely Dan

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L-R: Walter Becker (guitar/vocals), Donald Fagen (keyboards/vocals)

Steely Dan was an American rock band, active since the 1970s, featuring Walter Becker (1950-2017) and Donald Fagen (b. 1948). Their music was characterized by complex, jazz-influenced structures and harmonies and sarcastic, eccentric lyrics.


"I like having the two of us drumming. It doesn't always work in groups and both of you have to forget about your ego. With us it sounds like one guy playing at times, but it makes for a better combination of sounds. From the time the band was put together, Donald wanted two drummers. I was against it at first, but what the hell, we had two guitarists and two keyboard players, so why not two drummers? And my favorite band has two drummers -- Frank Zappa and the Mothers. It can work like a locomotive, especially on tunes like "Do It Again." It gives us both time to relax in different parts and we can concentrate more on the next fill." - Jim Hodder [1].

Interviewer: Did you ever meet Zappa?

Donald Fagen: "We opened for him on a run in the Midwest in the '70s, so I talked to him a little bit on the plane a couple of times. He was great."- Interview with Donald Fagen [2].

Walter Becker was once asked to listen to some tracks from music albums blindfolded and then give his opinion. One of these albums was Zoot Allures, where the interviewer played the title track: "Well, at first I thought it was the Floyd Rose All Stars. But I did suspect, and it was later confirmed, at least to my judgment, that it was Frank Zappa. There were some interesting tonal ideas in there, but it was very ponderous. I don't think I've ever heard music that seemed slower and less groovacious. I felt as if my life was being artificially extended. Some poor drummer was called in to play this tedious half-time beat. It was kind of stiff sounding. Frank Zappa used to play a lot of his solos through his wah-wah setup, just leave it partway on so that you get a particularly nasal and annoying tone. Let me say that Frank Zappa was one of my heroes in the late '60s and early '70s, and some of the best concerts I ever heard were his from that period. Much of his stuff I'm very much in favor of, but I lost interest in the mid-'70s. Who was the drummer, Aynsley Dunbar?" When the interviewer told him it was Terry Bozzio Becker said: "Didn't have a chance. It wasn't Terry's fault." [3].

When the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inducted Steely Dan in 2001 Walter Becker asked the audience who the drummer of The Mothers of Invention was? To his glee they answered correctly: "Jimmy Carl Black". [4].


See also