Donald Fagen Talks About The Loss Of Walter Becker, Steely Dan & More


Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen hasn’t given many interviews since his musical partner of 50 years, Walter Becker passed away in early September. Rolling Stone has just posted a chat with Fagen as the latest installment of the outlet’s Rolling Stone Music Now podcast.

Fagen revealed he did have a chance to say farewell to his Steely Dan collaborator. “When I heard he was really ill,” Donald told Rolling Stone, “I was on the road in, I think, Salina, Kansas, and I flew back. I had a day off and he was in his apartment in New York. And I was really glad that I went. I could see he was really struggling. When I put a chair next to the bed, he grabbed my hand. It was something he had never done ever before. And we had a great talk and, you know, he was listening to hard bop – his wife had put on Dexter Gordon records. He was very weak but he was still very funny. I’m really glad I had those hours.”

One surprising revelation is that Donald Fagen isn’t the one insisting on calling his current band Steely Dan. “I would actually prefer to call it Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan Band or something like that,” Fagen said with Rolling Stone adding it is promoters that are pushing him to call the group Steely Dan. “That’s an ongoing debate. To me, Steely Dan was just me and Walter, really – it was like a concept we had together.”

Another topic discussed is the lawsuit filed by Becker’s estate claiming a deal Walter and Donald signed is invalid. “When we started the band, Walter and I had a contract, and it was really a simple thing that a lot of bands have – if someone resigns or is fired or dies, they sell their rock & roll stock back to the company. So we signed this thing and it ended up being that Walter and I were the remaining partners…50/50 partners, and the idea was that if somebody dies the other guy would essentially run the band and take control of the band, so we’re just trying to defend that contract,” Fagen told Rolling Stone.

Head here for more from Fagen and listen to the podcast below: