Steely Dan Tickets for Sale
Most rock & roll bands are a tightly wound unit that developed their music through years of playing in garages and clubs around their hometown. Steely Dan never subscribed to that aesthetic. As the vehicle for the songwriting of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Steely Dan defied all rock & roll conventions. Becker and Fagen never truly enjoyed rock with their ironic humor and cryptic lyrics, their eclectic body of work shows some debt to Bob Dylan preferring jazz, traditional pop, blues and R&B. Steely Dan created a sophisticated, distinctive sound with accessible melodic hooks, complex harmonies and time signatures, and a devotion to the recording studio. With producer Gary Katz, Becker & Fagen gradually changed Steely Dan from a performing band to a studio project, hiring professional musicians to record their compositions. Though the band didn't perform live after 1974, Steely Dan's popularity continued to grow throughout the decade, as their albums became critical favorites and their singles became staples of AOR and pop radio stations. Even after the group disbanded in the early '80s, their records retained a cult following, as proven by the massive success of their unlikely return to the stage in the early '90s.
Steely Dan is an American jazz rock band based around musicians and songwriters Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. The group's history is divided into three stages. The first incarnation was a rock band that toured and recorded from around 1972 to around 1974; the second phase (1975-80) was as a purely studio-based act still using the name Steely Dan but now based solely around the songwriting team of Becker and Fagen; the third phase was Becker and Fagen's surprise return to recording and performing during the 1990s, with the band reconstituted as a large jazz-rock ensemble that both tours regularly and has released several acclaimed live and studio albums.
Regarded as one of the best (and best-recorded) albums of the period, it won a slew of awards, had shot into the Top Five in the U.S. charts within three weeks of release, and was one of the first American LPs to be certified 'platinum' for sales of over 1 million albums. It cemented the duo's reputation as songwriters, as well as their legendary reputation for studio perfectionism. The story of the making of the album has been documented in an episode of the popular TV and DVD series Classic Albums.
After Aja was released, ABC was bought by MCA and for most of the next three yeas they were caught in contractual problems that prevented them from recording a follow-up album, although they scored another hit single with the title theme from the movie FM (movie).
By the time of the release of Gaucho in 1980, they realized that the partnership was running out of steam and that they had reached their peak with Aja. Becker was also having personal difficulties including the loss of a girlfriend to a drug overdose. Nevertheless, the Gaucho album was another major success, and they scored another hit with the single Hey Nineteen, but by this time the duo had decided to split up, and they announced the parting in June 1981. Becker subsequently moved to the Hawaiian island of Maui to escape the L.A. scene, beat his addictions and raise a family. The two tried writing together again in the mid-1980s but were unhappy with the results.
In 1982 Fagen released his groundbreaking solo album The Nightfly, which was favorably compared to his Steely Dan work but failed to match the wide audience appeal of the two previous Dan albums. Interestingly, it included the only other song in the entire Steely Dan oeuvre that was not written by Becker and/or Fagen -- a cover of Leiber and Stoller's Ruby Baby.
After the release of his album, Fagen began to suffering from writer's block, so he withdrew from writing and recording for several years, although he occasionally did production work for other artists, as did Becker; one notable credit was British group China Crisis, who were strongly influenced by Steely Dan.
Two key events led to Becker and Fagen getting back together as Steely Dan. The first was on October 25, 1991, when Becker attended a concert by Fagen, who was at the time performing as part of producer Libby Titus' New York Rock and Soul Revue. The second was Becker's production of Fagen's second solo album Kamakiriad in 1993 -- a brilliant and hugely underrated work that ranks with any of Steely Dan's best recordings; Fagen later nominated it as the most satisfying recording experience of his career. Returning the favor, Fagen then produced Becker's first solo album 11 Tracks Of Whack (1994).
These events finally led to a reformation, and to the surprise and delight of fans, they mounted a U.S. tour to support Fagen's album (which sold poorly, even though the concerts were extremely successful). With Becker now mainly playing lead and rhythm guitar, they put together a strong new backing band that included an additional keyboard player and guitarist, female backing singers and a large horn section. They toured to great acclaim in 1995-6, performing mainly songs from the later Steely Dan albums, and released a live CD of the tour, Alive In America in 1997.
Finally in 2000 they released their first studio album in twenty years, Two Against Nature. It was not only a brilliant return to form but proved to be one of the surprise successes of the year, and in February 2001, it won them four coveted Grammy Awards. In March 2001 the original members reunited on stage for the first time in decades when Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2003 Steely Dan released another superb album, Everything Must Go and toured America. Sadly, long-serving Dan saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus (who previously played with The Doobie Brothers and Moby Grape) died of a heart attack in February 2004.
Steely Dan are famous for their use of chord sequences and harmonies that explore the area of musical tension between traditional pop music sounds and the sounds of avant-garde music. In particular, they are known for their use of the mu major chord, often simply known to musicians as the 'Steely Dan chord'.