The Five Musicians Steely Dan Turned Down

According to Far Out: Steely Dan was the pinnacle of studio test subjects in the 1970s rock scene. Both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker only accepted pitch-perfect in all they did, from their smooth R&B sounds to introducing jazz and fusion into the realm of rock. The outcomes were self-evident, but it doesn’t erase the wounded egos they left in their wake.

Just as many players were wounded by the end of the recording session as there were amazing successes. Although musicians like Larry Carlton and Steve Gadd had only ever had great things to say about their time with the group, each of them spoke about the toxic environment they entered and having to repeatedly play the same song.

Even a few titans have vowed never to collaborate with Steely Dan once more. Despite the fact that not everyone had the same idea in mind when writing these songs, Becker and Fagen’s strict rules were always followed. This ensured that the band would always have their distinctive Steely Dan sound, but it also caused session musicians to become incensed upon hearing the final product.

Five Musicians Steely Dan Turned Down
Five Musicians Steely Dan Turned Down

Even though not all of these romances had happy endings, Fagen and Becker can’t be faulted for knowing what worked in the Steely Dan style. From the beginning, these two puppet masters were searching for a studio commotion, and they would shift the Earth to record it. Please avoid mentioning these sessions.

Steely Dan rejected these five musicians:

Victor Feldman

Steely Dan has always been more of a state of mind than an actual rock and roll band. Throughout their time working together, Fagen and Becker had grown accustomed to treating musicians like instruments, hiring the ideal candidate for the job and structuring a song around the ideal beat. But, even if you are among the finest in your profession, you might not have enough energy to complete the task at hand.

Victor Feldman, a pianist who had gained experience as a session musician in jazz-rock, was enlisted to play on the song “Green Earrings” while working on The Royal Scam. Feldman’s timing was never appropriate for the song as the band continually worked on it, and none of the improvisations had the same attitude as those by Fagen or Becker.

The band compromised by adding another keyboardist and making Feldman play the percussion with a salt shaker as a way of punishing Feldman for failing to achieve the desired feel. Even though Feldman went on to work with superstars like Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond, flexibility is useless if you have to do magic at the end of the day.

Mark Knopfler

Some guitarists may support themselves solely via the practice of improvisation. Even though some of the greatest solos in history have been pre-planned, it’s an essential skill for guitarists to be able to create a solo while jamming. Although Mark Knopfler was trained for that style of playing, it wouldn’t work with a band that was intended to be accurate.

Whilst working on the song “Time Out of Mind,” Knopfler felt like a fish out of water attempting to obtain a good guitar sound for the recording. In Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years, Knopfler compared the experience of playing the song for hours on end with entering a swimming pool while wearing lead weights tied to your boot.

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To make matters worse, Knopfler was completely absent from the song’s final version. Despite his efforts, Becker and Fagen only really like portions of his playing in the opening 15 seconds of the song. They much prefer what the rest of the band contributed.

There isn’t any place for throwing out ideas, even if you have “Sultans of Swing” under your belt. Becker and Fagen constantly have something in mind for a tune.

Every Guitarist On ‘Peg’

‘Peg’ is the most deceptively straightforward of all of Steely Dan’s hits. Fagen always related the song to a blues number since it has the same lowdown attitude as his favorite tunes as a child, even though it contains many jazzy chords throughout. For this tune, the pair put a number of guitar gods through their paces. It takes a lot of skill to play the blues well.

Five Musicians Steely Dan Turned Down
Five Musicians Steely Dan Turned Down

Despite the fact that jazz rock legends like Larry Carlton and Denny Diaz both contributed to the album Aja, Fagen, and Becker was never happy with their work, firing six guitarists before bringing in Jay Gordon and telling him to “play the blues.” Fagen and Becker told Newsweek that the entire process probably took four to five hours. Even taking rests occasionally. They were aware that they had a good idea.

One of Steely Dan’s engineers claimed in the same interview that “A band would come in and record and two hours later Becker and Fagen would look at their producer and say, “Fire this band. ” Going through a star-studded cast of guitarists wasn’t out of the question either. Next night, let’s go with someone else. Every night, various bands would perform the same song.”

Human Drummers

There was never going to be a simple path to working with Steely Dan in the studio. The band may be open to collaboration, but Fagen and Becker never put up with idiots and always wanted the best performance from their members. But, there are instances when the human element of drumming just wasn’t good enough, and The Dan’s best late-period tunes ended up being recorded without a drummer.

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None of the drummers met the criteria the band was seeking prior to the recording of the album Gaucho. When recording songs like “Hey Nineteen,” Fagen and Becker began using computer-generated drums they dubbed “Wendel.” This gave the tune a looser vibe while it was still in the grid. Wendel ultimately cost hundreds of dollars, but the computational design provided The Dan with the desired sound.

Steely Dan: Reelin in the Years quotes Fagen as saying, We found there were certain feels that we couldn’t get out of genuine drummers. Fagen had complained about not getting the most out of the drummers. They lacked adequate steadiness. Hence, we had to create something that would execute everything flawlessly while also retaining just the proper amount of laxness and human emotion. Wendel is able to play in perfect sync with the drummer.

John Lennon

In all of their songs, Steely Dan never minced words. Whether it was the heroin dealer in “Kid Charlemagne” or the man who was sent back to the realm of evil in “Do It Again,” Becker and Fagen always provided their audiences with a glimpse at the sleazy side of life. Both Becker and Fagen could pull off anger when they wanted to, and they directed it at one of the biggest performers in the world while the music was still as soothing as it could be.

As the band was only starting off, John Lennon was releasing “Imagine,” which promoted a world of peace to the general public. Becker and Fagen wrote “Only a Fool Would Say That” as a direct reaction to what the “Intellectual Beatle” had to say because a wealthy man who had a history of abuse had performed the song.

Fagen criticizes the Beatle for “stating a falsehood” and calls him a fool for “talkin’ about a world where all is free” after referencing Lennon’s massive single “Imagine”. Steely Dan continued to make fun of the elder generation by writing songs that mocked the hippy idealism that was prevalent in the 1960s. The Flower Power era had come to an end, and the remainder of the rock scene needed to shake off the illusion that the Summer of Love had instilled in them. They may not have rejected his studio work, but they did reject the idea he was trying to convey.

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About karen millions

I am an idealistic person who has always strived to make the world a better place. I grew up in Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where I majored in English with an emphasis on writing. After graduation, I worked as a research assistant for a think tank before landing my current position as an editor at a news website.In my spare time, I enjoy researching and writing about social issues that are important to me. My goal is to use my skills as a writer and editor to make a positive impact on the world.

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