Free «70’s Band Steely Dan» Essay Sample


The steely Dan is a band that was started in 1970s which began to be famous in the late 1970s and early 1980's together with seven albums of jazz, rock, funk, R&B and pop. That means that, it is rock-pop funky-jazz band whose origin is America. It was the most successful music acts which incorporated many of the best studio musicians to convey their musical thoughts to life. The songs were really awesome that even the origin of the name Steely Dan did not bother so much. Although it originated from jazz and blues, its name came from a novel written by Edgar Burroughs known as 'Naked Lunch' which talked of an adult toy which was powered by steam (Sweet, 2000). The reference to this toy fitted the band because of their sarcastic lyrics. They are known as the perfect musical antiheroes far the by seventies by a certain magazine known as the Rolling Stone.

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The Steely Dan band was started two artists. One of them was Donald Jay Fagen who was born on 10th January, 1948 in a town called Passaic in America east coast. He was the first born kid and the only son of his family. Donald's mother at the age of between twelve and seventeen was singing with a band at a small hotel in Parkville. So, it believed that Fagen inherited his musical talent from his mother. He attributes his vocal phrasing to his mother who influenced him as she sang around the house as he grew up. He would fall asleep listening to the music. His first love was rock 'n' roll especially, Chuck Berry though he later began to have prejudices over it and he opted for jazz. He was then tutored by a family friend who made his love for jazz come out successfully. His family bought him a piano where he first played the song 'Exodus'.

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As Donald was walking past a college music club, he heard of music coming out from one of the rooms. This is the time he stopped and he did not know that, that day would be it a turning point in his life. He decided to enter the room and inside he found a young boy sitted on stage playing a powerful guitar tune. He approached the young guitarist and had a conversation together. The name of the guitarist was Walter Becker who was born on 20th February, 1950 in the Forest Hills areas of Queens in New York. He was two years younger than Fagen. Just like Donald, Becker was interested in jazz but he failed to learn on how to work on saxophone and instead, he went for a guitar (Sweet, 2005). Since the two had most of the things in common, they started becoming friends and they began writing songs together when they meet. They were both inspired in music though they did not know how to proceed with it. They only knew that they wanted a type of jazz music that will be good enough for them to establish a recording contract.

They encountered some challenges as they tried to pick up with the songs. One of these challenges was difficulty in getting singers. Donald had never sung before while Becker had only done a bit of it. They were also challenged by not knowing how the music industry business was all about since they had just graduated. They did not even have a tape of their own songs. They did not also have experience on working on studio nor did they have an expert to consult at that time. The studio was also expensive in terms of time to record which means that they could not afford at the start of their band (Stuessy & Lipscomb, 2008). They faced criticisms from the Americans but they had to persevere in their prospective work in order to achieve their goal of music.

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The better part of it was that they were always hoping for the best. They looked for an alternative outlet of their materials. They started looking for their own singers, who were taken for music classes in order to be taught on how to sing and to work within their vocal ranges. The students would be assessed by lecturers, invited guests and other visitors. They got Jay and The Americans group as studio singers. They began playing in front of multitudes of people and this is the time when it grew and Donald and Walter became famous. Fagen and Becker became part of the Bad Rock Group, an assembly which incorporated prospect 'Saturday Night Live' star Chevy Chase, who used to play drums. The other members who joined this band are a guitarist Jeff Baxter and a vocalist called Michael McDonald (Prown, Newquist & Eiche, 1997).

The steely Dan music had a lot of extreme sarcasm which touched on various issues that were experienced in the region such as speaking about drugs, love affairs, crime and other things that were based on true life experiences. The songs described lost friendships, lost hopes and joyless perversity in life.  Fagen and Becker are known to be the best in stage performance, in that, they had a studio musical group which had a minimum of forty two, and the engineers were eleven. They took almost a year to record their songs which resulted to the Gaucho album which enclosed just seven songs. Examples of the songs that the Steely Dan did are: Do it again, reelin' in the years, argent-hold your head up among others.


Steely Dan became a performance which was merely done on studio. In 1975 after it had gone to many places between 1972 and 1974. Fagen and Becker later in the years started becoming infamous because of their frustrations. They would discuss with other friends of theirs why they had failed to reach anywhere. They had failed to sell their songs because of lack of record company executives to assist them. They also diverted from jazz. So, it no longer hit the way it did in the 70s or almost completely unheard of. We hope in the near future, it would come to birth again and become a star.

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