Donald Fagen says that as recently as 2013 he spoke with Walter Becker about recording a new Steely Dan album, but Becker wasn’t inclined to pursue such a project. In an interview for Rolling Stone’s Music Now podcast, Fagen said his late musical partner simply “wasn’t that interested in working on Steely Dan records anymore.”

“It … might have to do with the specter of doing an album that would be on the same standard that we did previously,” said Fagen. “Maybe that scared him a little bit, or maybe he didn’t have the energy. I did ask him once in a while if he wanted to do something — and he’d usually say, ‘Yeah, sure,’ but then he wouldn’t call me or whatever, so it was obvious that he lost some of the enthusiasm.”

Steely Dan

Fagen also talked about his last visit with Becker, during which he sat bedside with his longtime bandmate.

“I could see he was really struggling,” Fagen revealed. “When I put a chair next to the bed, he grabbed my hand. It was something he had never done ever before. And we had a great talk and, you know, he was listening to hard bop – his wife had put on Dexter Gordon records. He was very weak but he was still very funny. I'm really glad I had those hours.”

Although Fagen has continued to perform under the Steely Dan banner since Becker’s death, he hopes that will soon change. “I would actually prefer to call it Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan Band or something like that,” he said, explaining that promoters have insisted he retain the Steely Dan moniker. “That’s an ongoing debate. To me, Steely Dan was just me and Walter, really — it was like a concept we had together.”