Steely Dan

Billboard recently spoke with four esteemed guitarists who made significant contributions to Steely Dan’s body of work. At one point, each player was asked to recall his first impression of the band’s music.

“I loved it from the very beginning,” said Elliott Randall, whose intro and solo on “Reelin’ in the Years” remains iconic. “A year or two before their ABC-Dunhill deal was inked, I spent many nights in the studio with Don [Fagan] and Walter [Becker], recording demos of their material….”

“I had heard their hits from the first two albums and liked them a lot,” offered Dean Parks, whose playing graced Pretzel Logic, Aja, and other Steely Dan LPs. “Pretzel Logic seemed different though. The music was unpredictable, which is good.”

“I knew nothing about Steely Dan before recording with them on Aja,” revealed Steve Khan, whose playing was crucial to 1980’s Gaucho. “I owned none of their albums, and I only knew ‘Do It Again’ and ‘Reelin' in the Years’ from the radio.

As regards jazz great Lee Ritenour, he says he was drawn to Steely Dan’s music from the start. “I always loved them,” he said, “even their earlier stuff. But then as they got more sophisticated, especially Donald’s solo records, it’s just so great to listen to as albums. I used to make a joke that it was far more pleasurable hearing a Steely Dan record than working on one!”