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Steely Dan

College buddies Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were a hopeful songwriting duo in the early '70s, waiting for such gigs as their tour, backing Jay & the Americans, to propel them to the big time. Although they sold the occasional tune, their career was going nowhere until a record-label executive suggested they form a band to showcase their work. Officially formed in 1972, the group included Becker on bass and Fagen on keyboards and vocals, backed by some of L.A.'s finest studio musicians. While their first album, Can't Buy a Thrill, was a huge success, with two top-10 singles, their touring experience was more harrowing, and by 1974 the duo decided to retire from the road and make Steely Dan a studio-only band. The cast of supporting musicians has changed constantly over the years, including Jeff Porcaro (later of Toto), Larry Carlton, Wayne Shorter and Lee Ritenour. After a series of hit albums, not to mention label hassles and creative ups and downs, Becker and Fagen officially called it quits in 1981. However, they reunited for a tour and live album in the '90s and released their first new album in 20 years in 2000, picking up a Grammy for Album of the Year. Their 2003 release of Everything Must Go was considered a bit funkier than the usual Steely Dan fare, but well received nonetheless.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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