Steely Dan

Steely Dan is a jazz rock group centered around the two members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. The band reached a climax of popularity was in the 1970s, when it released six albums that blended together elements of jazz, rock, funk, R&B, and pop. Their music is characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies, literate lyrics and adroit musicianship.

Fagen and Becker named the band for a steam-powered dildo in the William Burroughs novel Naked Lunch. The group toured from 1972 to 1974, but from 1975 to 1980 the group became purely a studio-based act. The band was known for using session players such as Michael McDonald on their recordings. Steely Dan was inactive from 1981 through 1992, after Becker and Fagen parted ways but they have since reunited, returning with the 2000 release Two Against Nature.

Their enigmatic, sardonically humorous and topical lyrics add to the appeal of the songs. Although Becker and Fagen might have at first owed a certain lyrical debt to Bob Dylan, they rapidly developed a distinctive style and have since become one of the most accomplished and respected songwriting teams of their age.

Becker and Fagen met at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (See this lyrical tribute) in 1967 and began playing in local groups; one of these, The Bad Rock Group, included future comedy star Chevy Chase on drums.

After Fagen graduated in 1969, the two moved to Brooklyn and in 1970 they joined the pop group Jay and the Americans, where they worked under pseudonyms (Fagen's was 'Gustav Mahler', Becker's was 'Tristan Fabriani'). They remained with The Americans until mid-1971 when they quit to work on the soundtrack of the low-budget film You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It, which was produced by Kenny Vance of The Americans. Around this time they tried to start a group with guitarist Denny Dias, but this was unsuccessful, so Becker and Fagen moved to Manhattan, hoping to establish themselves as professional songwriters.

Steely Dan Discography

1972 - Can't Buy a Thrill

1973 - Countdown to Ecstasy

1974 - Pretzel Logic

1975 - Katy Lied

1976 - The Royal Scam

1977 - Aja

1980 - Gaucho

1995 - Alive in America

2000 - Two Against Nature

2003 - Everything Must Go