Steely Dan’s Fagen Sues Walter Becker’s Estate

Donald Fagen of Steely Dan is suing the estate of his late bandmate, Walter Becker, in a supposed effort to buy the co-founder / guitarist’s “shares” in the group.

Fagen, through his attorney Skip Miller, claims the lawsuit is over a “buy/sell” contract the duo made in 1972 that if one of the members died or left the band, the other would have the right to have that member’s shares transferred to the other one.

Donald Fagen of Steely Dan
Anna C. Jones
– Donald Fagen of Steely Dan
Legacy Arena At The BJCC, Birmingham, Ala.

Fagen claims that he received a letter, dated Sept. 3, four days after Becker’s death, from the estate that read, “We wanted to put you on notice that the Buy/Sell Agreement dated as of October 31, 1972 is of no force or effect,” and the letter added that Becker’s widow, Delia Becker, be appointed a director or officer of Steely Dan, and that she is entitled to 50 percent ownership of the band, according to Rolling Stone.

Becker’s family, however, disagrees with the lawsuit.

“In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors,” the estate said in a statement released Nov. 27, adding that it was working toward a compromise with Fagen’s attorneys.  The estate added that Fagen’s lawsuit was “riddled with half-truths and omissions.”

Miller said in response that the “agreement at the heart of the suit is as valid as the day it was signed.”

“Mr. Fagen believes Mr. Becker’s estate is entitled to receive all normal royalties on the ths songs they wrote together,” he said. “But this case is about the future of the band, and we will vigorously defend the contract.

Fagen is also suing Steely Dan’s business management company, Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein and Bolno, which acts as the accountant for the band’s touring company and as business manager for Walter and Delia, according to Rolling Stone. Fagen alleges that the firm has been withholding relevant information such as royalty statements and tour income records.

Miller did not respond to an email for further comment at press time.