By Scott T. Sterling
The lawsuit between Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and the estate of his longtime musical partner, Walter Becker, is heating up.
Becker’s estate has released a statement in response to the lawsuit from Fagen regarding ownership of Steely Dan’s music and name.
“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,” the statement begins. “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.”
According to Rolling Stone, the suit is based on a buy/sell agreement the members of Steely Dan signed in 1972 that stipulates whenever a member of the group quit or died, the band would purchase that member’s shares.
Becker and Fagen were the last remaining shareholders.