×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Legal Battle Over Steely Dan Continues: Walter Becker’s Estate Responds to Donald Fagen’s Lawsuit

The estate of Steely Dan cofounder Walter Becker has responded to a lawsuit filed last week by bandmate Donald Fagen over ownership of the group and its name, according to Rolling Stone. The longtime musical partners founded the band in 1972; Becker died of cancer on Sept. 3.

At the center of the suit is a buy/sell agreement the part signed in 1972, the year the band formed, which stated that upon the death or departure of a Steely Dan bandmember, the group would purchase that member’s shares. By 1975 Steely Dan was effectively a duo, with Becker and Fagen accompanied by session musicians.

Fagen’s suit alleges that four days after Becker’s death from esophageal cancer, the singer received a letter that said: “We wanted to put you on notice that the Buy/Sell Agreement dated as of October 31, 1972 is of no force or effect.” The letter also reportedly demanded that Becker’s widow, Delia, be appointed a director or officer of the group, and that she was entitled to 50 percent ownership of Steely Dan.

In a statement, Becker’s estate claims that Fagen’s lawsuit is “riddled with half-truths and omissions” and “the misrepresentation that his widow, [Delia Becker] initiated any litigious action is simply untrue.” It also claims that the estate has twice come close to a compromise with Fagen’s lawyers, only to have him fire the attorneys. They claim a third lawyer filed the lawsuit without contacting Becker’s estate.

The Becker estate’s full statement appears below:

“We were disappointed to learn that Donald Fagen commenced a lawsuit against (the estate of) Walter Becker, his partner of 50 years, on the eve of Thanksgiving. We believe the agreement to which Mr. Fagen refers in his suit — drafted 45 years ago— was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death.

Mr. Fagen’s lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr. Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death. The misrepresentation that his widow, Ms. Cioffi initiated any litigious action is simply untrue. In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors.

Since Walter’s passing, we have endeavored to achieve a compromise with Mr. Fagen. We were close to a resolution with his longtime counsel who he suddenly fired. We then negotiated in good faith with replacement counsel who Mr. Fagen also fired. Mr. Fagen’s third and current lawyer did not even attempt to contact us prior to filing a lawsuit.

While we regret Mr. Fagen’s latest actions, we will vigorously defend against his unwarranted and frivolous case.”

More Music

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Attorney for Universal Music Artists Impacted by 2008 Fire Requests Inventory

    Following on its statements last week that it will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of several Universal Music recording artists impacted by a 2008 fire that destroyed a huge number of master recordings, a Los Angeles law firm has requested a “complete inventory” from the company. Addressed to UMG CEO and chairman Lucian Grainge, [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • XXXTentacion

    Watch a Trailer for New XXXTentacion Documentary

    A year to the day after rapper XXXTentacion was murdered, his estate has released a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the artist, which the announcement says is “releasing soon.” The clip, which includes narration from X himself, captures quick flashes of him reuniting with family and friends, engaging with fans, and working on music. In the [...]

  • Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Ed Sheeran Adds Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Khalid, Eminem, H.E.R. to 'Collaborations' List

    With less than a month to go, Ed Sheeran has uncensored his list of duet partners on the “No.6 Collaborations Project” album that’s due out July 12 and, not surprisingly, Justin Bieber is far from the only superstar in the bunch. It’s heavy on urban music giants, with Travis Scott, Khalid, Eminem, Cardi B, Chance [...]

  • Meek Mill, Future to Co-Headline on

    Meek Mill, Future to Co-Headline Late Summer Amphitheater Tour

    Hip-hop stars Meek Mill and Future have announced what they’re billing as a fall tour — even though, technically, most of the dates fall in the final weeks of summer — that will bring them to 24 cities across the country, mostly in outdoor amphitheaters. The co-headlining outing starts August 28 in St. Louis at [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content