Donald Fagen is contending that he’s not the bad guy in a new legal battle over ownership of Steely Dan.
Fagen is suing the estate of the group’s late co-founder Walter Becker in Los Angeles Superior Court over the group’s name and trademark. Fagen contends that a contractual agreement from the formation of the band in 1972 that states the group’s corporate entity buys all shares of any member who quits or dies.
Fagen and Becker were the sole remaining signators on that agreement, and Fagen’s suit claims that on September 11, four days after Becker’s death, the guitarist’s estate “sent Fagen a letter stating ‘We wanted to put you on notice that the Buy/Sell Agreement dates as of October 31, 1972 is of no force or effect” and positions Becker’s widow Delia as an officer and 50 percent stakeholder of Steely Dan.
Fagen is also seeking to wrest control of Steely Dan’s web site from Becker’s estate, which currently operates it.
Fagen, who’s continued to lead Steely Dan on tour without Becker, before and after his death, is seeking more than $1 million in damages and is asking the court to enforce the Buy/Sell Agreement and name him the sole owner of Steely Dan.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.