Steely Dan- Pretzel Logic 50th- Donald Fagen, the late Walter Becker

The third Steely Dan album, released in February 1974 as Pretzel Logic, has always served as a distinct demarcation line in the evolution of the eclectic band led by songwriting duo Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan is significant because it contained the #4 Billboard hit, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, with the album Top Ten in sales as well. Rolling Stone magazine ranks Pretzel Logic at #386 on their Top 500 Albums of All Time.

But it turned out that Pretzel Logic also was the last Steely Dan album to feature the five bandmembers Fagen, Becker, guitarist Denny Dias, original drummer and occasional vocalist Jim Hodder, and six stringmeister Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. The fatter, close-miked drumming on Pretzel Logic was played by the most in-demand timekeeper then, the late Jim Gordon, as well as LA studio newcomer Jeff Porcaro.

(L-R original drummer/vocalist Jim Hodder, Walter Becker, Denny Dias, Jeff Baxter, Donald Fagen)

Guitarist/bass player/co-writer Walter Becker, who passed away in September 2017, explained with blunt candor why Steely Dan stopped touring shortly after Pretzel Logic was released fifty years ago. “When you’re on stage performing, regardless of the type of music you’re playing in the arenas we played, you’re in ‘show business’. I don’t think it was ever Donald’s or my intention to be in ‘show business’. We wanted to to be musicians and make music…Other people who enjoyed it (playing live) more and were adapted to that, enjoyed it more…Also they liked the bad food and the diseases. I mean, they complain about it now, but the fact of the matter is that I saw the looks on their faces when they were enjoying that stuff!” – Redbeard