Richest CelebritiesRock Stars
Net Worth:
$50 Million
Feb 20, 1950 - Sep 3, 2017 (67 years old)
Record producer, Guitarist, Songwriter, Musician, Singer
United States of America
💰 Compare Walter Becker's Net Worth

What was Walter Becker's Net Worth?

Walter Becker was an American musician, songwriter and record producer who had a net worth of $50 million at the time of his death in 2017. Walter Becker earned his fame and fortune as the co-founder, guitarist, bassist and co-songwriter for the band Steely Dan. He co-founded the group with Donald Fagen in the early 1970s. Becker's distinct guitar work, brilliant songwriting, and impeccable production skills were instrumental in crafting the complex and sophisticated sound that made Steely Dan one of the most critically acclaimed acts of the 1970s.

Over the next several decades Steely Dan sold more than 40 million albums worldwide over nine studio album releases. Steely Dan would also become one of the most-sampled bands by hip-hop artists. Several of their riffs would be turned into hugely popular rap songs. Their music has been sampled for songs by De La Soul, Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz, Kanye West, Ice Cube, Wiz Khalifa, and 3rd Bass.

Unfortunately, Walter died on September 3, 2017 at the age of 67. Two years after his death, Walter's widow held an estate sale of all the musician's former guitars and amplifiers among other valuables. The sale brought in more than $3 million.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Walter Becker was born on February 20, 1950 in the Queens borough of New York City. His parents separated when he was young, and his British mother returned to England. Becker was raised by his father and grandmother in both Queens and Scarsdale, New York; they convinced him that his mother had passed away, something he believed for many years. As a teenager, he went to Stuyvesant High School, and played saxophone and guitar.

Becker went on to attend Bard College, where he met his longtime collaborator Donald Fagen at a campus café. The pair formed the college band Leather Canary, which also featured fellow Bard student and future actor Chevy Chase. Becker and Fagen left the school in 1969 and moved to Brooklyn to become a songwriting duo.

Steely Dan

In the summer of 1970, Becker and Fagen responded to an ad in the Village Voice looking for a bassist and a keyboard player with jazz abilities. The ad was placed by guitarist Denny Dias, who was immediately impressed by the pair. Subsequently, Becker and Fagen formed the rock band Steely Dan, named after a steam-powered vibrator featured in the William S. Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch." Becker became the bassist and later the lead guitarist, while Fagen took on lead singing and keyboard duties; both wrote all the band's songs. Other members of the initial lineup included Dias, Jeff Baxter, Jim Hodder, and David Palmer. Steely Dan went on to release its debut studio album, "Can't Buy a Thrill," in 1972. A commercial success, it reached number 17 on the Billboard 200. It was followed by "Countdown to Ecstasy" and "Pretzel Logic," the latter of which made it to number eight on the album chart. Steely Dan had further success with 1975's "Katy Lied" and 1976's "The Royal Scam." The band's biggest hit was 1977's "Aja," which reached number three on the Billboard 200. Featuring the hit singles "Peg," "Deacon Blues," and "Josie," the album is often considered to be one of the greatest of all time.

Steely Dan followed the huge success of "Aja" with another commercial triumph, 1980's "Gaucho." However, the album was also beset by myriad personal and creative problems, including a three-way legal battle between Steely Dan, MCA, and Warner Bros. over the rights to its release. Moreover, jazz pianist Keith Jarrett sued Becker and Fagen for allegedly plagiarizing one of his tracks for the album's title song. Steely Dan subsequently broke up in 1981, but got back together to tour in the early 1990s. The band's next studio album was "Two Against Nature," its first after 20 years away from the studio. A commercial smash upon release in 2000, the album was also met with many critical hosannas, winning four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year. Steely Dan went on to release "Everything Must Go" in 2003, the band's ninth album and the last one to feature Becker. The album peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200, and was followed by a tour.

Walter Becker

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Success and Hiatus

Steely Dan's popularity grew with each subsequent release. Their albums, including "Countdown to Ecstasy" (1973), "Pretzel Logic" (1974), and "Aja" (1977), were celebrated for their sophisticated songwriting, intricate arrangements, and top-notch musicianship. Becker, alongside Fagen, was the driving force behind this success.

However, the intense work ethic and the stress of constant touring led Becker to substance abuse. After the release of the band's seventh studio album, "Gaucho" (1980), Becker and Fagen announced a hiatus. Becker moved to Hawaii, where he focused on getting sober and started working as a record producer.

Below is a list of some songs that sampled Steely Dan tracks:

  • "Eye Know" by De La Soul sampled "Peg" by Steely Dan
  • "Stand Up" by Ludacris sampled "Black Cow" by Steely Dan
  • "Last Call" by Kanye West sampled "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan
  • "Pray" by Jay Z sampled "Peg" by Steely Dan
  • "Love" by MF DOOM sampled "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan
  • "Before We Die" by Trey Songz sampled "Time Out of Mind" by Steely Dan
  • "Glamour Profession" by 6ix9ine sampled "Glamour Profession" by Steely Dan
  • "Champion's Theme" by Wale sampled "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan

This list is not exhaustive as Steely Dan's influence and extensive catalogue have made them a favorite among artists for sampling.

Solo Career and Reformation of Steely Dan

After the disbanding of Steely Dan in 1981, Becker relocated to Hawaii and began working primarily as a record producer. He produced albums for the bands China Crisis and Fra Lippo Lippi, and was credited as a member of the former on the band's 1985 album "Flaunt the Imperfection." Becker also produced albums by such artists as John Beasley, Michael Franks, and Rickie Lee Jones. Reuniting with Fagen in 1986, he collaborated on Rosie Vela's debut album "Zazu." Becker later produced Fagen's Grammy-nominated 1993 solo album "Kamakiriad." In 1994, Fagen returned the favor by producing Becker's debut solo album, "11 Tracks of Whack." Becker's second and final solo album, "Circus Money," came out in 2008; it was inspired by reggae and other Jamaican musical styles. Also in the 00s, Becker contributed to albums by Krishna Das, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Madeleine Peyroux.

In 1993, Becker and Fagen reformed Steely Dan, releasing two more albums – "Two Against Nature" (2000) and "Everything Must Go" (2003). They also embarked on several successful tours, their sophisticated sound continuing to resonate with audiences.

Personal Life and Death

In 1984, Becker wed yoga teacher Elinor Meadows; they had two children, including an adopted daughter, before divorcing in 1997. Becker was also married to Juanna Fatouros and Delia Cioffi, and earlier dated Karen Stanley, who died of a drug overdose in 1980.

In the 1970s, Becker struggled with substance addiction. After the breakup of Steely Dan and his move to Hawaii, he went sober. In 2017, Becker was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and passed away in September.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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