Steely Dan's Elliott Randall: Guitar Virtuoso Unleashed


Who is Elliot Randall?

Elliot Randall is an iconic session guitarist best known for his work with artists like the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. Elliot’s musical journey, starts with disastrous piano lessons at age five before discovering his passion for guitar. Growing up in a musical household, he was surrounded by influences like Dwayne Eddy and Richie Valens, shaping his early style.

Richie Havens and Broadway:

High school brought Elliot into contact with future stars like Michael Kamen and Laura Nyro, with whom he formed a singing group. His career took off when he met folk legend Richie Havens in Greenwich Village. From there, Elliot ventured into studio work, even serving as the musical director for “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway

Enter Donald Fagan and Walter Becker:

It was Elliot’s connection with Donald Fagan and Walter Becker of Steely Dan that truly catapulted his career. Despite declining an offer to join the band, Randall played on some of their early tracks, including the iconic “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

Throughout his journey, Elliot’s love for the blues remained a constant, shaping his unique sound and earning him the respect of his peers. He recorded a few demo tapes with Walter Becker and Donald Fagan and these were passed on by the record execs.  Eventually, even though they were accepted, Elliot turned down the opportunity to join Steely Dan.

Declining Steely Dan's offer:

“Well, I knew the personalities of all the band members and I just had this gut instinct that the band as it was wasn’t going to last beyond 3 albums. And funny enough, true to my gut instinct, after 3 albums, they basically dismissed everyone in the band. They did however call me back to do their 4th album and 5th albums”.

Reelin in the Years: Genius Guitar solo

Elliot delved into studio work, collaborating with a diverse range of artists, including members of Kiss. Despite declining offers from notable acts like The Blues Brothers due to concerns about drugs and drama, he stayed true to his values and focused on his craft. A change of scenery brought him to California, where he received a call from Fagan and Becker to play on Steely Dan’s first album. 

The phone keeps ringing:

The success of “Reelin’ in the Years” led to numerous calls from other artists seeking his guitar expertise. He subsequently either recorded or performed with the Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon, the Blues Brothers, Carl Wilson, Peter Wolf, Peter Frampton, Richie Havens, Yoko Ono, the Village People, Gene Simmons, Asia, the Rochester Philharmonic, and the American Symphony Orchestra, among others. 

Fame with Irene Cara:

Elliot also played on the hit title track to the 1980 movie Fame, sung by Irene Cara. He served as a ‘musical consultant’ for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and has penned, produced, and performed countless commercials for TV and radio.

Changing with the times:

As the music industry evolved, Elliot adapted by embracing new technologies and opportunities. He moved to London to explore the recording scene but eventually returned to New York, where he now enjoys working on both new and old musical projects in his studio. 

Enjoy Life, Avoid Drama, Have Fun:

Today, his enduring friendship with Donald and Walter from Steely Dan have allowed him to collaborate on various projects over the years. Elliot’s philosophy is to enjoy life, avoid drama, and have fun. This resonates throughout his musical journey, leaving a lasting impression on those who have followed his career.

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