I was one of the fortunate group to have the opportunity to see something I had only dreamed about previously: the night when Donald and Walter reunited on stage to perform a few SD tunes live for the first time since the '70s. Because I believe that this night was also very meaningful for Walter, I thought I'd post a few memories here for those who appreciate such things (those reading this forum!).
A bunch of us had been alerted to the possibility of this happening through the Metal Leg grapevine. We knew Donald was going to be joining a few others on stage in one of the "New York Nights" shows at the old Lone Star Roadhouse (RIP). And, we knew that Walter was in town for some promotional work for his production of the Lee Ann Ledgerwood jazz album. So, the possibility was there, and that was enough for most of us to form a line extending around the block from the club.
Once inside for the early show (there were two shows that night), my friends and I grabbed a table right in front of the stage. The place was packed to the rafters and excitement was in the air. About halfway through the show with Donald on stage, a buzz started to go through the crowd that Walter was somewhere in the joint along with Roger Nichols. Sure enough, in a few minutes Jimmy Vivino leaned into the mike and said "I understand Walter Becker is in the audience, and we want to ask him to come up on stage for this next one."
Of course that blew the roof off the place, with a long period of screaming, but no sign of WB yet. We were all looking around, and then we saw him off to the side, waving his arms as if to decline the invitation. But Jimmy wasn't taking No for an answer: "C'mon, just play the solo. Just the solo." Finally, we saw Walter start to take off his sweater and make his way toward the stage, and the place shook with a mighty roar. I slammed my fist down onto the table so hard that it knocked over everyone's drinks!
So he climbs onto the stage, borrows a guitar from Jimmy, and Donald walks up to the mike and says, "Gus Mahler, ladies and gentlemen!", cracking up Walter. Then they launch into Josie. Pandemonium ensues. When Walter laced into his solo, the club was pure hysteria. He ended up staying on stage for a couple more tunes including Black Friday and then disappeared back into the crowd.
The next day, WB was interviewed along with Ledgerwood by Ray White of CD101.9. I knew Ray was a SD fan from his days at the legendary WLIR on Long Island, so I called the studio line before the interview to let him know what had happened the night before. During the interview, Ray says something like: "So I understand you joined Donald on stage last night and played a blistering guitar solo." And WB pauses and says "Well I don't see any blisters on my hand, but yes." Ray said that it must have been planned in advance, but WB said, "No, it wasn't at all. If it was I would have brought my own guitar." When Ray then asked him what made him decide to do it, Walter said, "The overwhelming spirit of appreciation at the place."
This made me feel really great, because I realized that Walter finally may have clearly understood how much we all appreciated him and missed him. Of course, he later went on to join DF's New York Rock & Soul Revue tour, and the rest is history. This all led me to believe that I was part of something that night, that may have played a role in convincing Walter that the time was right for him to get back in the saddle. We made him happy that night. For that, I will be eternally grateful. A magic night I will never forget.