Walter Becker died. You probably don’t know him, but you know Steely Dan.

There are a ton of musicians who’ve played with Steely Dan (Michael McDonald, Skunk Baxter), but the two who made it Steely Dan were Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Becker played guitar, sometimes sang, but not often, and wrote the songs and produced the albums with Fagen.

I don’t mean this to sound like an insult, but Steely Dan was the original smooth jazz band. Its sound was distinctive, in that hipster cool, Southern Califonia via New Jersey and Queens vibe. I spent many hours mellowing out to “Aja,” “Can’t Buy a Thrill,” “Pretzel Logic,” “Countdown to Ecstasy,” “Katy Lied” and “Gaucho” back in the ’70s and ’80s. I’ve heard the albums from the 2000s were good, but I’m content with the classics.

Here’s a live performance in Charlotte:

Becker’s the older, bearded guy in glasses on guitar. Fagen had some nice things to say about him:

Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, 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. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

But the thing about Steely Dan is the sound. And the Nerdwriter explains what that’s all about:

Walter Becker died yesterday at age 67.

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You want to help R Kelly? Get him some counseling.

According to the Washington Post:

R. Kelly’s lawyer has responded to allegations in a BuzzFeed News story that the R&B singer was holding six women in an abusive “cult.”

“Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him,” his lawyer, Linda Mensch, said in a statement to People magazine. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”

The widely circulated BuzzFeed story, posted Monday, details several parents’ attempts to contact and free their daughters from R. Kelly’s properties in Chicago and Duluth, Ga. Former members of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee — allege that he controls what the women can and cannot do. They told BuzzFeed that the women, ranging from two teenagers to a 31-year-old “den mother,” are required to refer to Kelly as “Daddy” and must ask for permission to leave the properties. Kelly, 50, reportedly confiscated their cellphones and, in addition to dictating their daily activities, films their sexual encounters.

Every time I hear about R Kelly, I immediately remember this:

Thanks, Huey.

Everytime ‘Despacito’ comes on

It seems to be an addiction:

Those crazy kids.

OK. Those crazy Russians.

What is this song, anyway?

The song that’s sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 list is “Despacito,” a Spanish-language track by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, with an assist from Canadian boy Justin Bieber.

Perhaps needless to say, it’s not common for non-English-language tracks to land very high on the Billboard charts. Over the past 35 years, we identified 15 songs that matched that criterion.

This has been the No. 1 song in America for eight weeks. And the first time I heard it was yesterday, which shows how out of the loop I am. I guess I should take a look at the whole thing.