LOS ANGELES – Walter Becker, the guitarist, bassist and co-founder of the 1970s rock group Steely Dan, which sold more than 40 million albums and produced such hit singles as "Reelin' In the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose that Number" and "Deacon Blues" has died. He was 67.
His official website announced his death Sunday with no further details.
Donald Fagen said in a statement Sunday that his Steely Dan bandmate was not only "an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter" but also "smart as a whip," "hysterically funny" and "cynical about human nature, including his own."
Although Steely Dan had been touring recently, Becker had missed performances earlier in the summer in Los Angeles and New York.
Musicians were quick to mourn Becker on social media Sunday. Mark Ronson tweeted that Becker was "one half of the team I aspire to every time I sit down at a piano."
A New York City native who started out playing the saxophone and eventually picked up the guitar, Becker met Fagen as students at Bard College in 1967 and founded the band in 1972 after they moved to California.
From 1972 to about 1980, the band enjoyed both critical and commercial successes with the releases of seven studio albums, including "Pretzel Logic" and the seminal "Aja," from 1977, but broke up in 1981 after the release of "Gaucho."
Becker had suffered some personal hardships during this time, including his girlfriend's death by overdose and a resulting lawsuit, and an injury he suffered after being struck by a cab. When Steely Dan disbanded, Becker retreated to Maui — where he died — and began growing avocados.
Becker eventually reunited with Fagen and, after a nearly 20-year hiatus, released two albums: "Two Against Nature," which won four Grammys, including album of the year in 2001, and "Everything Must Go."
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.