Steely Dan – ‘Peg’
  • Writers: Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
  • Producers: Gary Katz and Steely Dan
  • Recorded: Early summer 1977 at A&R Studios, New York City
  • Released: September 1977
  • Players:
    Donald Fagen — vocals, keyboards
    Walter Becker — guitar, vocals
    Jay Graydon — solo guitar
    Chuck Rainey — bass
    Rick Marotta — drums
    Michael McDonald and Paul Humphrey — backing vocals
    Paul Griffin — keyboards and backing vocals
    Tom Scott — lyricon
    Victor Feldman — percussion
    Gary Coleman — percussion
    Dave Grolnick — clavinet
    Steve Khan — guitar
    horn section — uncredited
  • Album: Aja (ABC, 1977)
  • Also On:
    Greatest Hits (ABC-Dunhill, 1978)
    A Decade Of Steely Dan (MCA, 1985)
    Citizen Steely Dan: 1972-1980 (MCA, 1993)
    Alive In America (Giant, 1995)
    Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972-1980 (MCA, 2000)
  • “Peg” was the last song cut for Steely Dan‘s Aja album, recorded in New York while the rest of the album was being mixed back in Los Angeles.
  • Donald Fagen and Walter Becker did do some overdubbing for the song in Los Angeles, however.
  • The lead single from Aja, “Peg” peaked at Number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Drummer Rick Marotta says he and bassist Chuck Rainey remember the “Peg” sessions well: “We had done stuff with them before, so we knew what to expect, so we just started playing. Chuck and I had played together so much that we got into a groove. I don’t remember everything about it exactly, but I remember I was very sick, and Don Grolnick had to take me to the hospital in the middle of the night during a rainstorm to get a shot. Anyway, once Chuck and I started playing, you could have hung your coat up on the groove.”
  • The late Jeff Porcaro, a Steely Dan session regular who went on to co-found Toto, liked “Peg” so much that he made a tape loop of it for his car tape deck.
  • Rainey has said that Becker and Fagen’s demo for “Peg” was actually good enough to have been released on its own, without rerecording.
  • Rainey also balked at Becker and Fagen’s instructions not to use a thumb slap bass technique that was his trademark. He felt it would be appropriate for “Peg,” so while recording his part he turned his back to the control room window and performed the technique anyway.
  • Becker and Fagen also had trouble getting a guitar solo they liked for “Peg.” They tried eight different players, including Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, and Becker himself, before Jay Graydon played it to their satisfaction.
  • The backing vocalists for “Peg” had impressive resumes: Michael McDonald, of course, was working with the Doobie Brothers and had also done session and touring work for Steely Dan, while Paul Humphrey had done Motown sessions for Marvin Gaye and the Four Tops.
  • Thirty-eight different musicians were listed in the credits for Aja.
  • Aja was Steely Dan’s highest-charting album, peaking at Number Three on the Billboard 200. It reached Number Five on the U.K. album chart.
  • It’s also the band’s best-selling title, with more than two million copies sold.
  • Aja won a Grammy Award for best engineered recording, non-classical.


  • Carlton appropriated the opening chords of “Peg” for his own song “Room 335,” after receiving permission from Steely Dan to use them. He would introduce the song in concert as “the tune I stole from Steely Dan.”
  • Steely Dan gradually lost members over the course of the ’70s, until it became a vehicle for Fagen and Becker, along with producer Gary Katz and a cadre of studio musicians.
  • Becker and Fagen went their separate ways after the 1980 album Gaucho, but reunited in the ’90s — first for Fagen’s New York Rock & Soul Revue tours, and finally, in 1993, under the name Steely Dan.
  • Becker and Fagen also helped each other on their most recent solo albums.
  • Steely Dan resumed studio recording with Two Against Nature in 2000, which won Grammy Awards for album of the year, best pop vocal album, and best engineered recording, non-classical, while the single “Cousin Dupree” was named best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal.
  • Steely Dan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. Proving that they didn’t take the honor all that seriously, the duo put Becker’s Rock Hall trophy up for a mock auction just days after the ceremony.
  • Becker and Fagen received honorary doctor of music degrees from Boston’s Berklee College Of Music on May 12, 2001.
  • Their most recent studio album is Everything Must Go, in 2003.
  • Walter Becker is releasing a solo album June 10th, called Circus Money.

Steely Dan is touring the U.S. this summer, of the Think Fast Steely Dan tour.