Play With the Stars in Heaven, Walter Becker

"Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967," Donald Fagen, long time friend and colleague, wrote in a tribute to Becker. "He was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny."

Don Fagen and Walter Becker in younger years

Walter Becker was a hero of mine from the first time I heard Rikki, don't lose that number on either Ö3 or DRS 3 in 1975. His and Fagen's band Steely Dan had had a hit before (Do it again) that I liked but did not quite internalize the band's name. Rikki was from album "Pretzel Logic" that I bought immediately and every album before and after that, a behaviour that I only afforded for few other artists. I should have written this tribute myself in September but did not arrive at doing so and so have to accomplish it on the year's last day.

Aja might be one of the best Rock and Pop albums ever produced. Contrary to, for example, Neil Young whose music I liked so much because it was so "easy" to play on the guitar and sing, Becker and Fagen's harmonies were always a lot to complex and difficult for me to check out and copy. Tried my hand at Deacon Blues and Do it again but never came far enough to play it in front of any other person, not even my wife if I remember it correctly.

Rest in peace Walter Becker! Surely there will be music in the stars.

And now for something not so different

On this last day of 2017 it is only fitting to resume and bemourn the many musicians and film/TV people that we lost in the past 365 days. While 2016 took away quite a lot of our most revered humans in music and film, the great reaper took in a much larger harvest this year that ends today.

Here's a list of people that we knew and consumed works of. It starts with the splendid Ms. Braz of Lambada fame who was murdered at age 63 in her home town and ends with Jonny Halliday, France's greatest rock'n'roller whom cancer took away at age 74.

Loalwa Braz (January 19th, murdered, 63), Jaki Liebezeit (January 22nd, lung infection, 79), Peter Watts (January 22nd, cancer, 69), Butch Trucks (January 24th, suicide, 69), Geoff Nicholls (January 28th, cancer, 72), John Wetton (January 31st, cancer, 67), Al Jarreau (February 12th, lung insufficiency, 82), Clyde Stubblefield (February 18th, kidney failure, 72), Larry Coryell (February 19th, heart failure, 72), Joni Sledge (March 10th, natural causes, 60), Chuck Berry (March 18th, cardiac arrest, age 90), J. Geils (April 11th, natural causes, 71), Charly Murphy (April 12th, leukemia, 57), Frank Dostal (April 18th, cardiac arrest, 71), Jonathan Demme (April 26, cancer, 73), Daliah Lavi (May 3rd, unknown, 74), Jimmy Copley (May 13th , cancer), Chris Cornell (May 17th, suicide, 52), Roger Moore (May 23rd, cancer, 89), Greg Allman (May 26th, cancer, 69), Glenne Hadley (June 9th, pulmonary embolism, 62), Anita Pallenberg (June 9th, unknown illness, 75), Prodigy (June 20th, sickle cell anemia, 42), Martin Landau (July 15th, hospitalization complications, 89), Gunter Gabriel (June 22nd, broken cervical vertebrae, 75), Geri Allen (June 27th, cancer, 75), Chris Roberts (July 3rd, cancer, 73), John Blackwell (July 4th, cancer, 43), George Romero (July 16th, cancer, 77), Wilfried (July 16th, cancer, 67), Chester Bennington (July 20th, suicide, 41), Sam Shepard (July 30th, ALS, 73), Jeanne Moreau (July 31st, natural causes, 89), Chuck Loeb (July 31st, cancer, 61), Goldy McJohn (August 1st, cardiac arrest, 72), Bernd Witthüser (August 4th, unknown, 73), Glen Campbell (August 8th, Alzheimer, 81), Sonny Burgess (August 18th, natural causes, 86), Bea Wain (August 19th, heart failure, 100), Jerry Lewis (August 20th, heart condition, 91), John Abercrombie (August 22nd, heart failure, 72), Tobe Hooper (August 26th, natural causes, 74), Melissa Bell (August 28th, kidney failure, 53), Walter Becker (September 3rd, cancer, 67), Holger Czukay (September 5th, unknown, 79), Don Williams (September 8th, emphysema, 78), Jessi Zazu (September 12th, cancer, 28), Gabriele Greiner-Koller (September 14th, cancer, 41), Grant Hart (September 14th, cancer 56), Harry Dean Stanton (September 15th, natural causes), Charles Bradley (September 23rd, cancer, 69), Joy Fleming (September 27th, natural causes, 72), Tom Petty (October 2nd, cardiac arrest, 66), Grady Tate (October 8th, natural causes, 85), Gottfried Böttger (October 16th, cancer, 67), Gord Downie (October 17th, cancer, 53), Scott Putesky (October 22nd, cancer, 49), Daisy Berkowitz (October 22nd, cancer, 49), Eamonn Campbell (October 18th, unknown, 70), Robert Guillaume (October 24th, cancer, 89), Fats Domino (October 25th, 89), Whitey Glan (November 7th, cancer, 71), Gord Downie (November 9th, substance abuse, 57), Chuck Mosley (November 9th, substance abuse, 57), Lil Peep (November 15th, overdose, 21), Malcolm Young (November 18th, complications of dementia, 64), Della Reese (November 19th, natural causes, 86), David Cassidy (November 21st, kidney and liver failure, 67), Mundell Lowe (December 2nd, natural causes, 95), Johnny Hallyday (December 6th, cancer, 74), Johanna Lehner (December 15th, complications after cancer, 58).

Nowadays it seems, especially successful musicians do not seem to die mostly of drug abuse in their 20ies and 30ies anymore but get taken by cancer and cardiac arrest in their 50ies, 60ies and 70ies.

As many know I survived cancer at the age of 55 and in about 1 year there will be no relapse statistics for me anymore. God bless you, physicians who did not stop to research causes and remedies. 'twas not good enough for Walter Becker and not good enough for former German foreign secretary Guido Westerwelle who died at age 54 of the exact same ailment that I survived, 1 year younger than when it affected me and some years younger than I am now.

Rest in peace Guido Westerwelle!

last updated: 05.04.22, 07:16

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