Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Steely Dan: Walter Becker cause of death confirmed

Delia Becker, the widow of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, has confirmed the guitarist’s September 3 death at the age of 67 was caused by “an extremely aggressive form of esophageal cancer.”

In a letter to Steely Dan's fans published by Rolling Stone, Becker's widow details that the timeline from discovery of the issue, during a routine medical checkup, to his passing was less than four months, while also expressing thanks for the outpouring of support the family has received.

“As Walter Becker’s wife of many years, I wanted to share with his fans some information regarding his death that has not previously been reported,” Delia begins. “I realize this is overdue, and I hope you will understand why. For me personally, his death was a devastating blow, as I know it was for many of you. I am just beginning to emerge from its heartbreaking impact.

“Walter died in the course of being treated for an extremely aggressive form of esophageal cancer. The cancer was detected during one of his annual medical checkups and its presence came as a grim surprise to Walter, his doctors and to me. It seemed to have come out of nowhere and had spread with terrifying speed.

“Walter chose an intense regimen of chemotherapy at Sloan Kettering though, between the cancer’s aggressiveness and the overwhelming toxicity resulting from the chemotherapy treatments, Walter died less than four months after the cancer was detected.

“Walter passed peacefully in our New York City home, surrounded by his family, his music, and a blustery rainstorm — one of his favorite sounds — blowing outside the window. In keeping with his wishes, he was cremated without ceremony or memorial in New York City.

“Understandably, Walter wanted privacy during the course of his illness and he hoped for recovery. He wanted to be able to return to the stage and once again perform for his fans. It's important to me, as it was to Walter, that you all know he never intended to keep anyone in the dark about his condition. He just ran out of time much sooner than any of us thought possible.

“The tsunami of tributes and remembrances that have followed Walter’s passing has been deeply moving. Even his "Number 1 Fan" — me — would not have predicted anything close to the depth and breadth of public expressions from those whose lives were enriched by Walter — by his talent, his kindness, and his skill at inspiring some wicked fun.

“Thank you, everyone, for helping me and his loved ones know that Walter's mark on the world — and on all of you — will not soon fade.”

Becker and Donald Fagen first crossed paths at New York’s Bard College in 1967; they spent their first few years together as local performers and songwriters in the city before touring as members of Jay And The Americans' backing band.

The pair eventually formed Steely Dan in 1972, going on to release a series of successful albums throughout the decade after retiring from live performances in 1974. After disbanding in 1981, Becker and Fagen enjoyed solo careers before reuniting for a concert tour in 1995.

With more than 40 million albums sold worldwide, Steely Dan were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

“I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band,” wrote Fagen in a heartfelt note following the loss of his longtime friend and bandmate.

See also:

Steely Dan: Donald Fagen cancels solo shows due to illness
Steely Dan announce first tour following death of Walter Becker
Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker dead at 67