Speaking to the Orillia Packet & Times, Donald Fagen revealed that his late bandmate and Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker had been sick for “at least five years” and fought his illness “valiantly” before he passed on September 3, 2017.
“He was really hurting the last couple of years—especially the last year—but he soldiered on,” Fagen said. “All he wanted to do was play; that was his life. It’s great that he could do it.”
Further along in the interview, Fagen also says he feels “unprepared” performing without his other half, unable to consult with Becker about setlists, which was once their pre-show routine. “He had a certain way of looking at [our music] that I really miss,” he said.
Since Becker’s passing, Fagen has gone on to shoulder the Steely Dan legacy alone, leading the band’s fall tour which now includes a mid-show tribute to Becker. Usually, Fagen sings the Becker solo song, “Book of Liars” which, he laments, sounded much better when his creative partner sang it.
“We show some pictures from Walter’s earlier years,” he says. “I don’t like to be sentimental about these, but the audience really seems to appreciate it. I think it’s a good thing to do.”