It was over the week of August 3, 1974, when the iconic outfit, Steely Dan, had their best performance on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," the first single from the band's third studio album, Pretzel Logic, peaked at #4 on that chart. It still stands as the highest-charting song on the Hot 100 over the Dan's storied career. The #1 song in America that week: John Denver's "Annie's Song."
Let's look back at this classic track with five more fun facts.
1. The song is (allegedly) about writer Rikki Ducornet
The legend goes that Steely Dan's Donald Fagen met the very married and pregnant Ducornet at a party while he was attending Bard College, where her father was a professor of sociology and her mother hosted a radio show. He's never actually confirmed that the song is about her, but she'll tell you that it is: ”I remember we had a great conversation and he did suggest I call him, which never happened,” she told Entertainment Weekly in 2006. ”But I know he thought I was cute. And I was cute. I was very tempted to call him, but I thought it might be a bit risky. I was very enchanted with him and with the music. It was so evident from the get-go that he was wildly talented. Being a young faculty wife and, I believe, pregnant at the time, I behaved myself, let’s say. Years later, I walked into a record store and heard his voice and thought, ‘That’s Fagen. And that’s my name!”’
2. In 2013, Donald Fagen was tired of playing the song
"Historically, Walter and I aren’t that fond of 'Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,' for some reason," Fagen told Rolling Stone. "Not that it’s a bad song. I think that it’s, quote, 'well-written,' but I guess because it’s so simple that it has more of a listening fatigue."
3. The guitar solo was played by future Doobie Brother Jeff "Skunk" Baxter
Before he became one of the most recognizable members of the Doobie Brothers, Baxter played guitar with the original Steely Dan lineup. He provides a very tasteful and melodic solo during "Rikki Don't Lose That Number."
4. Future Eagle Timothy B. Schmit sings backing vocals
Steely Dan and the Eagles? Believe it. The current bass player for the Eagles and longtime member of Poco was also quite the accomplished session musician. Schmit sings on three of Steely Dan's albums: Pretzel Logic, The Royal Scam and Aja. He's among the personnel who recorded "Rikki Don't Lose That Number."
5. The song's intro is a reference to jazz legend Horace Silver's "Song For My Father"
"There was never a conscious thought about picking up Horace Silver's intro," Fagen said in a 2011 interview. "We wrote this Brazilian bass line and when drummer Jim Gordon heard it, he played his figures. As for the piano line, I think I had heard it on an old Sergio Mendes album. Maybe that where Horace heard it, too [laughs]."