Although other members have drifted in and out of the group, Steely Dan is essentially Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Their music is strongly jazz-influenced, a little more cerebral than most pop, and self-consciously avoids the guitar-driven rock that has proven to have more crowd appeal. Fagen and Becker don’t seem to mind; they strive for perfection in each song, and their fans would argue they come awfully close to achieving it.
The partners played background (Jay and the Americans), tried songwriting (Barbara Streisand recorded one of their numbers), and finally put together a band. Their first album came out in 1972, and though they’ve had some modest chart success, they’ve earned more of a cult following than mainstream success.
Some of their top songs include:
- “Do It Again” (1972)
- “Reelin’ in the Years” (1973)
- “My Old School” (1973)
- “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (1974)
- “Peg” (1977)
- “Deacon Blues” (1977)
- “FM” (1978)
- “Josie” (1978)
- “Hey Nineteen” (1980)
The guys broke up in 1981, but got back together and recorded again in 1993. One of the albums recorded after their reunion, Two Against Nature, received four Grammy Awards in 2001, including Album of the Year. Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Great American Things, August 31, 2009) in 2001.