Steely Dan | Show Song List
Steely Dan Defiantly charting their own musical course, Steely Dan's music is marked by clever, sardonic lyrics that offer sometimes-dark stories and portraits of life "in the city."
Keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen and guitarist/bassist Walter Becker grew up in the suburbs of New York City listening to their musical idols: Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. Fagen was born in Passaic, New Jersey on January 10, 1948. Becker was born on February 20, 1950 in New York City. The two met at Bard College and found a common musical ground, not to mention a sardonic sense of humor. They forged a songwriting partnership, and several college bands followed.

After college, the pair moved to Brooklyn to peddle their songs, but with little success. However, they did make two important connections. Kenny Vance, of Jay and the Americans, helped them find work as musicians (for his band, among others), and as composers of the music for an early Richard Pryor film, You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It.

The other connection was with aspiring producer Gary Katz. When Katz moved to LA to become a staff producer at ABC Records, he invited Fagen and Becker to become staff songwriters. Together with Katz, they "secretly" set out to form a band. The first line-up included Fagen, Becker, Denny Dias, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and Jim Hodder. The band practiced after hours in a small, abandoned ABC office.

Once ABC agreed to a Steely Dan album, Dan session players Elliot Randall and Jerome Richardson were brought in, and vocalist David Palmer was signed as lead singer since Donald Fagen was uncomfortable in the role. Ironically, two tracks that Fagen sang became hits. "Do It Again" and "Reelin' in the Years" helped propel the album Can't Buy a Thrill to gold status in 1972.

Through the years, and many personnel changes, Fagen and Becker continued to develop as songwriters and performers, all the while steering Steely Dan away from the "three-minute song" to extended pieces, with tunes and rhythms that had a soul-funk pulse, jazz texture, and a deeper-than-pop feel. Their recordings gained great reputation for being tightly crafted, beautifully engineered creations, and the sessions became plum assignments for the best session players in Los Angeles and New York.

In 1981, after a decade of critical acclaim and a string of gold (4) and platinum (3) albums, Fagen and Becker disbanded the group, tiring of the relentless pressure of touring and recording. Each went into semi-retirement, Becker to Hawaii and Fagen to New York, working on solo projects and playing live gigs from time to time.

Throughout the 1990s, whenever their creative paths crossed, the two found a vital, enduring desire among Steely Dan fans for more. In response, they began limited tours that eventually led to the 1995 album Alive in America. In February 2000, Steely Dan released Two Against Nature, the first studio album since 1980's Gaucho. A new album is in the works for 2003.

Set List for Steely Dan on Piano Jazz
  • Limbo Jazz (D. Ellington)
  • Josie (Fagen/Becker)
  • Mood Indigo (D. Ellington)
  • Star Eyes (De Paul/Raye)
  • Hesitation Blues (WC Handy)
  • Things Ain't the Way They Used to Be (M. Ellington)
  • Chain Lightning (Fagen/Becker)
  • Black Friday (Fagen/Becker)

    Related Links
  • Official Web Site