Steely Dan is an American jazz rock band whose music also blends elements of funk, R&B, and pop. Founded by core members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen in 1972, the band enjoyed great critical and commercial success in the late 1970s and early 1980s before breaking up in 1981. Rolling Stone has called them "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies". Steely Dan reunited in 1993 and has toured steadily ever since.
Recorded with a revolving cast of session musicians, Steely Dan's music is characterized by complex jazz-influenced structures and harmonies. Becker and Fagen are whimsical, often sarcastic lyricists, having written "cerebral, wry and eccentric" songs about drugs, love affairs, gambling, and crime. The pair is also known for their near-obsessive perfectionism in the recording studio: Over the year they took to record Gaucho (1980), an album of just seven songs, Becker and Fagen hired at least 42 studio musicians and 11 engineers.
Steely Dan toured from 1972 to 1974 before retiring from live performances, becoming a studio-only band. After the group disbanded in 1981, Becker and Fagen were less active throughout most of the next decade, though a cult following remained devoted to the group. Since reuniting in 1993 Steely Dan has released two albums of new material, the first of which, Two Against Nature, earned a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. They have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2001.
In a VH1 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, Steely Dan were listed at #82.