On the morning of Friday, January 19th, 2024, I received a very nice message with a photo attached from my good friend, Fred Goaty, the publisher/editor of France's renowned "JAZZ" magazine. In the photo he was holding up what appeared to be a page from a book with a caricature of me - one that I had never seen before. I was stunned to learn that the book in question was actually, "QUANTUM CRIMINALS: Ramblers, Wild Gamblers, and Other Sole Survivors from the Songs of Steely Dan" by author Alex Pappademas and artist/illustrator Joan LeMay which had been published last year in May of 2023. I had no idea that this book had been in the works or had been published. I bought a copy right away.
When I sought out and explored Joan LeMay's wonderful website, I saw that, of course, she had done portraits of many of the significant players in Steely Dan album lore. So, I grabbed as many as I could and created the collage of Joan's portraits below. Needless to say, I am very, very honored to have been selected as one of her subjects. It is a bit shocking to me not to see great players/engineers/singers like, to name a few: Roger Nichols; Elliot Scheiner; Hugh McCracken; Don Grolnick; Joe Sample; Paul Griffin; Rob Mounsey; Victor Feldman; Anthony Jackson; Steve Gadd; Jim Keltner; Jim Gordon; Rick Derringer; Tom Scott; Patti Austin; Valerie Simpson and any number of others.
As I have stated before, for the "Peg" session for "AJA" here in New York, which took place on February 24th, 1977 @ A&R Studios at 799 7th Ave., I was recommended to Donald, Walter and Gary by engineer Elliot Scheiner. I knew nothing about Steely Dan. I owned none of their albums, and I only knew "Do It Again"; "Reelin' in the Years" and "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" from the radio. I knew from Don Grolnick, as he had played on "THE ROYAL SCAM," that he found the songs to be really interesting, and very different from your average Pop, Progressive Rock or R&B group. So, it still remains as remarkable how things developed from that one recording.
My copy of the book, purchased from Amazon, arrived on Saturday, January 20th, and honestly, having only seen Joan's wonderful artwork, I didn't know what to expect where the prose and text were concerned. It's so interesting that Alex lists his "credit" as LINER NOTES by Alex Pappademas and as I scrolled through the book to get a feeling for what the approach to Steely Dan, their music, their lyrics, and their characters might have been, I began to see that, in the end, in addition to Alex's impressions, point-of-view and reverence for the body for work, this book is very well-researched and the sincerity with which it is approached, for me, is beyond reproach. I would think that any Steely Dan fan would be thrilled to have this book in their collection of Dan-related stuff.
Just now, I recalled another funny little anecdote from Donald where he was talking about times, early in their careers, when someone, somewhere out on the long & dusty road, introduced them by saying: "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Stevie Dan." I laughed when Donald told me that, and I'm smiling right now!
In the second chapter of the book titled, "Walter" - obviously about Walter Becker, I am quoted from a conversation that I had with Donald Fagen, during the "GAUCHO" recording, where I felt confident enough in my working friendship with him to finally ask him: "So what is it exactly that Walter does?" - and when I asked this, I was not joking around! To this question, Donald responded by saying: "He finishes the things that I can't seem to finish! It could be a line in a song, it could be a missing chord somewhere." In that moment, this seemed to make great sense to me.
Alex opens by writing about both Walter and Donald and the origins of their collaboration and the founding of the band. He then traverses through the albums introducing us to the various characters as they appeared in the songs often accompanied by Joan LeMay's artistic impressions of what those characters might have looked like. To list a few: Rikki; The Major Dude; Dr. Wu; Babs & Clean Willie; Peg; The Expanding Man; Josie; The Babylon Sisters; Hoops McCann; The Dandy of Gamma Chi; The Gaucho; A Jolly Roger and Third World Man.... and I have just scratched the surface! The rest? It remains there for everyone to explore and enjoy!!!
Row 1: Donald Fagen - Walter Becker - Gary Katz
Row 2: Bernard Purdie - Chuck Rainey - Jeff Porcaro
Row 3: Larry Carlton - Dean Parks - Steve Khan
Row 4: Michael McDonald - Jay Graydon - Rick Marotta
Row 5: Denny Dias - Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - Michael Omartian
BIG LOVE, Steve