Jim Beard, Steely Dan Keyboardist, Dead At 63

The Grammy-winning jazz pianist was touring with Steely Dan as openers for the Eagles on their "Long Goodbye Tour" and last performed on Jan. 20.
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Jim Beard, who joined rock band Steely Dan as keyboardist in 2008, has died. He was 63.

The musician died Saturday in a New York City hospital from complications due to a sudden illness, a representative confirmed to Deadline.

Beard, who worked with jazz icons like Wayne Shorter and John McLaughlin, was mourned by his band on their website.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of our friend and colleague,” they wrote.

Beard was prolific as a professional jazz and fusion rock musician. According to his website, he performed with the Metropole Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Lincoln Center Orchestra throughout his decades-spanning career.

Beard, whose compositions were used in major movies and TV shows, was nominated for seven Grammys and won in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category in 2007 for “Some Skunk Funk.”

Many of his fellow musicians paid tribute Wednesday on social media.

“Jim Beard, RIP … Jim was the glue and such a great presence on so many projects,” wrote jazz drummer Peter Erskine on X. “I’m going to miss the man, his wit and his musical incisiveness. You made a difference, Jim.”

“Thank you for everything Jim Beard,” Ben Wendel, a saxophonist and producer, wrote Wednesday on the platform. “You were a musical giant and inspiration to so many. I am incredibly grateful I had a chance to hang with you and get a little insight into your genius.”

Beard's last performance with Steely Dan was on Jan. 20.
Beard's last performance with Steely Dan was on Jan. 20.
Al Pereira/Getty Images

Beard was born in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, in 1960 and moved to New York City in 1985 to pursue his dream in music. In the decades since, he toured around the world — from festivals across the U.S. and Canada to concerts in France and Japan.

Beard published more than 100 compositions throughout his career and recorded with jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie and the Brecker Brothers. He was touring with Steely Dan as the opening act for the Eagles on their “Long Goodbye Tour” until recently.

Beard’s last performance with Steely Dan took place in Phoenix, Arizona, on Jan. 20.

“I can not believe Jim Beard is gone,” wrote Antonio Sanchez, a Grammy-winning drummer and composer, Wednesday on X. “What an untimely loss. He was such a gentle soul and an insanely talented artist … We will miss you, dear Jim.”

He is survived by his children Victor and Caitlin, siblings Nancy and Bill, and mother Sarah.

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