6. Donald Fagen
Funkiest Jam: Steely Dan "Black Cow"
Steely Dan rose to rock 'n' roll prominence in the least rock 'n' roll way possible. They weren't particularly good-looking. They stopped touring after their third album, and they rarely spoke to the media. There weren't additional theatrics or publicity stunts to gain fans. They simply let their music, born out of meticulous perfectionism, speak for them. Rejecting the folk, blues and country strains of rock and roll, Donald Fagen instead embraced more of a jazz fusion approach that allowed Steely Dan to produce some of the most compelling rock music of the '70s and '80s.
Donald Fagen's early musical tastes were shaped by jazz and artists like John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. Later, Fagen would employ the top jazz session musicians in the country when recording albums. Complex song structures, unorthodox time signatures, jazz chord progressions, and the elusive "mu chord" are all elements of Fagen's influence on Steely Dan.
Obsessive in their quest to make the best music possible, Steely Dan's album Gaucho (despite only having seven songs) featured 42 studio musicians and 11 different engineers by the time it was completed. Fagen helped shaped rock 'n' roll by abandoning traditional rock 'n' roll principles. For that, we salute his funkiness.