March 2, 2024
Steely Dan in the studio, 1973


Of all the smartasses that ever made a career out of rock’n’roll, such as Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren and 10cc, none played it smarter than Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the co-leaders of Steely Dan. To sell 40 million albums, as the Dan have, is no mean feat. But they did it with the most sophisticated and highbrow music ever recorded by a major rock group.

The fact that their group were named after a dildo – as featured in William S. Burroughs’s 1959 novel The Naked Lunch – is typical of the subversive edge and sly humour that has always been a feature of Fagen and Becker’s art. All this is what made them, in the words of Rolling Stone magazine, “the perfect musical anti-heroes of the 70s”.





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