An old friend who knows of my lifelong love affair with Steely Dan sends this note I somehow managed to miss: Chuck Rainey, the band's more-or-less bassist from Pretzel Logic in '74 to Gaucho six years later, suffered a stroke Friday night. Susan Rainey, the second Mrs., writes on the official website that he's since been released from ICU, is "doing very well" and that "doctors expect him to make a FULL recovery." Till then, she writes: "We ask that you continue to keep Chuck and our family in your Thoughts and Prayers and that you continue to Visualize him 100% Recovered!" Absolutely.
Rainey, now 71, was born in Cleveland but became a local in '82, moving to Bedford 'round the time he ditched out of Ricki Lee Jones's band and met Susan. But ever after, local gigs for Rainey were hard to come by -- this, despite the fact his is perhaps the most wide-ranging, chart-topping, platinum-making discography of anyone living within earshot of DFW.
A small but by no means representative sampling of albums on which he appears: Aretha Franklin's Young, Gifted & Black, Marvin Gaye's unheralded masterpiece I Want You, Rickie Lee Jones's Pirates, Jackson Browne's The Pretender, Donald Fagen's The Nightfly, Bette Midler's '73 eponymous release, Tim Buckley's Greetings from L.A. and several each by Quincy Jones, King Curtis, Mose Allison and, of course, Steely Dan. In the video that follows, Fagen and Walker Becker discuss the making of Aja -- and why Chuck disobeyed orders when it came time to play "Peg."
In '96, Josh Alan Friedman wrote an epic Rainey profile for the Observer, asking: How can a man who's played with 'em all not get a gig 'round town? It's worth repeating today; Rainey's calendar shows concerts and workshops from Boulder to Tokyo throughout 2011, but just one gig locally -- at the Center of Spiritual Living on Spring Valley in February. Said Rainey then: "I'm a player, so I want to play."