Published Nov 22, 2017Steely Dan vocalist Donald Fagen is suing the estate of his late bandmate Walter Becker over ownership of the band's music and name.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fagen's suit references a buy-sell agreement signed by the band's original members upon the group's 1972 incorporation. The contract stipulates that when a band members leaves or dies, the remaining Steely Dan members purchase all the member's shares in the group.
The Hollywood Reporter notes, lawyer Louis "Skip" Miller wrote in the complaint that "By the 2010s, Fagen and Becker were the only remaining shareholders and signatories to the Buy/Sell Agreement... Four days after Becker's death, on September 7, 2017, the Becker Defendants sent Fagen a letter stating that '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 complaint also states that the letter looked to appoint Becker's widow as an officer of Steely Dan, in addition to a 50 percent stake of ownership. Fagen also alleges that Becker's estate currently operates the band's website and refuse to share control of it.
Fagen is seeking upward of $1 million USD in damages, in addition to a decision stating the buy-sell agreement is valid to make him sole owner of Steely Dan's name and associated rights.
"This lawsuit is about a contract, the enforcement of that contract and the continuity of Steely Dan," Miller told The Hollywood Reporter. "We think the contract is very clear on its face, and we hope this lawsuit is resolved expeditiously."
Becker passed away in September at age 67.