The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen
By Peter Jones


240 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: PDF, EPUB

PDF, $14.99 (CA $19.99) (US $14.99)

ISBN 9781641606899

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Sep 2022)


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Donald Fagen will forever be associated with Steely Dan, the band he formed with Walter Becker and four other musicians in 1972. The smooth, radio-friendly veneer of the duo's songs made Steely Dan internationally popular and famous in the 1970s, but the polish glossed over the underlying layers of anger, disappointment, sleaze, and often downright weirdness lurking just beneath the surface. The elliptical lyrics were—and continue to be—an endless source of fascination. What kind of person was capable of writing such songs? Fagen has always kept his true self hidden behind walls of irony, confounding most journalistic enquiries with a mixture of obscurity and sarcasm. Nightfly cracks open the door to reveal the life behind the lyrics and traces Fagen's story from early family life in suburban New Jersey, to his first encounter with Walter Becker at Bard College, their long struggle for recognition as songwriters, and the formation of Steely Dan. The band's break-up in 1981, re-formation in 1993, and Fagen's parallel solo career are covered in detail.Author Peter Jones seeks to explain the public's continuing fascination with Fagen's music, both in collaboration with Becker and as a solo artist.


"In Nightfly, Peter Jones has done an impeccable job illuminating one of music's most mercurial and mysterious figures. Exhaustive research, rich storytelling and keen observations make this a must-read not just for Fagen fans and Steely Dan devotees, but any music fans that relish compelling inside stories from the vinyl era. A comprehensive, critical biography that will also help you listen to classic albums like Pretzel Logic, Katy Lied, Aja and others with fresh new ears." —Chris Epting, author of James Dean Died Here and other books

Author Biography

Peter Jones is a jazz musician, journalist, and author. His two recent books are This Is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy and This Is Bop: Jon Hendricks and the Art of Vocal Jazz. He performs regularly at jazz clubs in his hometown of London and throughout the UK.