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Steely Dan keyboardist Jim Beard dead at 63

Jim Beard pictured in 2013 (Jim Beard)
Jim Beard pictured in 2013 (Jim Beard)

Jim Beard, a musican and solo artist who had been the touring keyboardist for Steely Dan since 2008, has died. He was 63.

According to reports in Billboard, the pianist, composer and producer died on Saturday 2 March due to complications from a sudden illness.

A simple statement on the Steely Dan website reads: “It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of our friend and colleague JIM BEARD 1960 - 2024”

Beard was born in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania on 26 August 1960. As a teenager he studied clarinet, saxophone and sting bass and went on to study jazz at Indiana University. There, he played in a bar band alongside session drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp, John Fogerty) and trumpet player Chris Botti.

In 1985, Beard moved to New York and began a career as a sought-after session and touring musician. He toured with Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter and recorded with artists including Dizzy Gillespie. Dianne Reeves and Steve Vai.

Beard joined the Steely Dan live band in 2008 for the Think Fast Tour. His final show with the band was in January in Phoenix, Arizona.

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