steely dan

Turn that Heartbeat over Again: Donald Fagen flies solo

Now bereft of his creative partner, the Steely Dan co-founder brings his new band to Portland


Update: several of Fagen and the Nightflyers’ upcoming shows, including the Portland performance, have been canceled due to illness, according to a release from the Oregon Symphony, which sponsored the concert.

It was still September when [I] was quite surprised to findthat Walter Becker died. Paul McCartney without John Lennon, Don Henley without Glenn Frey, and now, Donald Fagen without Walter Becker. Death came for Becker on Sunday, September 3, 2017, splitting up Steely Dan forever. I stalk the obits. I’d forgotten that it’s Becker’s early pictures, his long hair and camera stare-down, I associate with the band as much as Fagen’s acidic vocals.

On Tuesday, September 12, Fagen brings his new band The Nightflyers (named for Fagen’s first solo album, The Nightfly) to Portland5’s Arlene Schnitzer concert hall. We’re promised Steely Dan hits, Fagen solo numbers and a few surprises.

Donald Fagen & the Nightflyers perform in Portland September 12.

I Got the News. A few days before the show, the biggest surprise — shock, really— is the loss of Fagen’s life-long creative partner. In his elegy to Becker, Fagen wrote “I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.” We don’t know whether that means Steely Dan will continue (as the Eagles have without Frey) or that Fagen will continue to play their music along with his own, as McCartney has done since a few years after the Beatles’ demise and Fagen has done between Steely Dan tours.

I do know that both with and without Becker, Donald Fagen is worth hearing, and even worth reading.


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