In November, Steely Dan singer and songwriter Donald Fagen sued the estate of his late band member, guitarist and songwriter Walter Becker, who passed away in September, for full ownership of Steely Dan Inc. based on a Buy/Sell agreement drawn up between Becker and Fagen in 1972 that stated that if a member of Steely Dan dies or leaves the group, the other members would then buy their shares.
On January 19, Becker’s estate filed a motion to dismiss Fagen’s suit. Shortly after Fagen filed the complaint, Becker’s estate issued a statement criticizing the frontman for having “his lawyer send a demand letter” trying to claim total ownership of Steely Dan Inc. one day after his bandmate of 50 years passed away.
In a copy of the filing first published by Pitchfork, attorneys for Becker’s estate argue that the paperwork from 1972 stipulates an “automatic termination” of the Buy/Sell agreement if “upon the occurrence of any event as a result of which all of the outstanding stock of the Corporation will be owned by a single stockholder.” In other words, Becker’s attorney’s claim that the agreement was designed to prevent one member of the group from owning the entire incorporated entity. If Fagen’s lawsuit does get tossed out, then the Becker estate retains 50 percent the band’s name and related rights.
On Tuesday, Fagen’s attorneys responded with a motion claiming that Becker’s estate “already received its fair share of Steely Dan’s revenues based on Becker’s contributions to the band while he was alive.” His lawyers argued that it would be unfair for Becker’s estate to earn the revenue Fagen generates by continuing to tour as Steely Dan.
Fagen plans on kicking off a Steely Dan tour with the Doobie Brothers in May.