David Palmer was only the lead singer of Steely Dan for a few short months in late 1972 and early 1973. It was during that brief time, however, that the band cut their debut album Can’t Buy a Thrill and launched their first major tour. Palmer came into the Can’t Buy a Thrill sessions late (largely at the insistence of the brass at ABC Records), and he sings lead on “Dirty Work” and “Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me.)” He also doubled up Donald Fagen’s voice on “Reelin’ in the Years.”
Palmer fronted the band during their live show, and he sang their hit “Do It Again” when the group played The Midnight Special in January of 1973. (Fagen sang it on the album.) As the group’s fame rose, having one guy sing lead in concert and another sing lead on the most of the studio material made little sense. The band let Palmer go in April of 1973, and Fagen very reluctantly agreed to take over full-time singing duties. Palmer moved around the California music scene in the Seventies and Eighties (even singing a song on the Teen Wolf soundtrack in 1985), but he now works as a photographer.