Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen Recounts Playing Robert Downey Jr’s 50th Birthday, Says He’s Never Heard AC/DC

Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen Recounts Playing Robert Downey Jr’s 50th Birthday, Says He’s Never Heard AC/DC

Even if you live under a rock, by now you should be aware that Steely Dan are playing Coachella the next two weekends. And what’s the best way to turn this oddity into #content in the year 2015? Easy: Get aging rockstar Fagen to pen a tour diary of sorts for Rolling Stone during his stint at the wildly drug-and-youth oriented event.

Things get juicy right away when Fagen admits he’s never really listened to fellow aging rockers, AC/DC:

I’m flying to the West Coast to do a shortish tour, about two weeks. The gigs were booked after we were invited to play at the Coachella festival as a token old-guy band along with AC/DC, whoever they are (I stopped following most mainstream radio rock soon after we put out our first Steely Dan record in ’72). Really, I’ve heard the name for years, but not sure what they sound like.

And the sort of celebrity gossip spillage that you’d expect when Steely Dan is playing Robert Downey Jr.’s birthday party:

Tonight we’re supposed to play a private party, the fiftieth birthday bash of a prominent film actor who in the last few years has become a colossal movie star. The event is taking place at what used to be an old airplane hangar in Santa Monica. Well, I don’t think he’d mind if I give you just his initials: R.D. Jr.

Will Robert mind? Hopefully not. Apparently, him and Fagen have a sort of six-degrees of separation connection:

Walter and I usually don’t do privates. Too many drunks with their escorts, heckling or not paying attention to the music at all. But I’ve always thought R.D. was a smart, soulful actor, and when I met him backstage at one of our shows, he seemed like a decent sort, an honest fan. Also he was a childhood buddy of my late stepson Ezra when Libby, my wife, used to be a singer (and a single mother) in L.A. By the time we got together in the late Eighties, both Libby and I had lived several weird, wiggy lives in a variety of locations.

Weird. Divorce is almost starting to get kind of cool in the way it gives people the chance to live more than one long, tedious life. Not that Fagen’s life will ever be tedious, considering his idea of a semi-dull evening is performing at the birthday party of a very famous person. His description of the party makes me wish I was there:

Last night’s party? A lot of cozy green couches and curtains, leafy indoor trees. Because R.D. can no longer righteously alter his consciousness by artificial means, music and dancing were the thing. Also, some sort of performance, dressing up in clever costumes for each decade, like a Nehru jacket for the Sixties. I heard there were titanic movie stars floating around, but I was working, I never saw them. By the time we got onstage — after Duran Duran — there were maybe 30 revelers left, but they seemed to be having fun, dancing and yelling.

The diary ends with an ominous “to be continued” — stay tuned.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.]

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