'Steely Dan' Co-Founder Walter Becker Dead at 67

9/3/2017 6:53 AM PDT

'Steely Dan' Co-Founder Walter Becker Dead at 67

Walter Becker, the co-founder and guitarist for Steely Dan, had died, TMZ has confirmed.

Becker, along with co-member Donald Fagen, wrote a some huge hits in the 70's, including "Rikki Don't Lose that Number," "Deacon Blues," "Kid Charlemagne," "Hey Nineteen," and 'My Old School."

The group disbanded in 1981 but they came back in the 90's and produced several big albums, including Two Against Nature, which snagged 4 Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

Becker and Fagen were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 

We're told Becker had been very ill and underwent surgery last month.

Becker was 67.

Fagen tells TMZ, "Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Band College in 1967,  We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

We liked a lot of the same things:  jazz (from the 20's through the mid-60's), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind.  Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood -- I'll spare you the details.  Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter.  He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny.  Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creating mimicry, reading people's hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art.  He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby's singular voice that made the 3 of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the 70's, and we lost touch for a while.  In the 80's, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band."