Steely Dan Keyboardist Jim Beard Dies at 63

Steely Dan keyboardist Jim Beard has passed away after an illness at the age of 63.

Beard reportedly died after a short illness in a New York hospital on March 2, according to Fox News.

The performer’s representative said he passed “surrounded by loved ones.”

He last performed with the band on Jan. 20 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The versatile and accomplished pianist, keyboardist, composer, producer, and arranger has been with Steely Dan since 2008 when he joined the group for its Think Fast Tour.

He was born in 1960 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania and played clarinet and saxophone as a youth. He later studied jazz at Indiana State University where he first began playing in bands.

By 1985, Beard was making music, composing for artists including John McLaughlin, Michael Brecker. He also toured with such jazz greats as Pat Metheny, McLaughlin, and Wayne Shorter. He performed in studio with Steve Vai, the Metropole Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. And he composed music for TV and movies, as well.

Beard recorded six solo albums and also taught at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, the Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University, the Aaron Copland School of Music in New York, and the Sibelius Academy in Finland.

Beard is survived by his son and daughter, Victor and Caitlin Beard. His mother, Sarah, sister Nancy Canale, and brother, Bill Beard are also still with us.

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