Steely Dan deal goes to court

Steely Dan's Donald Fagen (left, in a 2001 photograph) is taking the estate of his late fellow member Walter Becker (far left) to court.
Steely Dan's Donald Fagen (right, in a 2001 photograph) is taking the estate of his late fellow member Walter Becker (left) to court.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • At stake is the ownership of the Steely Dan name.

In 1972, an agreement signed by bandmates Donald Fagen and Walter Becker stipulated that if a member of Steely Dan quit or died, the band would buy out that person's shares in the group.

Becker died on Sept 3, aged 67.

Four days later, Fagen said he received a letter from Becker's estate, stating that the 1972 agreement was invalid and asking that Becker's widow, Delia, be named as a director of Steely Dan. The letter added that she was entitled to half-ownership of the band.

Fagen, 69, is now taking the estate to court over these issues, reported Rolling Stone magazine. He is also upset that Becker's estate has control of Steely Dan's website, claiming that it refuses to share access with him.

Fagen is also suing the band's business management firm, alleging that he was kept in the dark over royalties plus income from tours.

Steely Dan, a jazz-influenced rock group, are held in high standing by music critics. They scored three top 10 singles, starting with 1973's Do It Again.

Rikki Don't Lose That Number (1974) and Hey Nineteen (1981) continue to be staples on classic rock radio stations today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'Steely Dan deal goes to court'. Print Edition | Subscribe