Donald Fagen Discusses The Future Of Steely Dan In First Interview Since Walter Becker’s Death

Donald Fagen has given his first in-depth interview since the death of Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker back in September. On Rolling Stone’s Music Now podcast, Fagen reveals that he had hoped to record another Steely Dan album, but Becker wasn’t interested. “Walter had some health problems, and especially after 2011-12, I think just being ill for so long, he had a little bit of a personality change and he was much more isolated, and he kinda wasn’t that interested in working on Steely Dan records anymore,” Fagen says. “It also might have to do with the specter of doing an album that would be on the same standard that we did previously. Maybe that scared him a little bit, or maybe he didn’t have the energy. I did ask him once in a while if he wanted to do something — and he’d usually say, ‘Yeah, sure,’ but then he wouldn’t call me or whatever, so it was obvious that he lost some of the enthusiasm.”

Since Becker’s passing, Fagen has continued to tour with the rest of the live band under the name Steely Dan, but he doesn’t necessarily want to keep doing that. “I would actually prefer to call it Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan Band or something like that,” he says before explaining that promoters have insisted that he call it Steely Dan for commercial reasons. “That’s an ongoing debate. To me, Steely Dan was just me and Walter, really — it was like a concept we had together.”