Steely Dan Drama: Donald Fagen Sues Walter Becker’s Estate


Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had a partnership made in musical heaven that spanned 50 years until Becker’s death in September. The two Steely Dan masterminds reportedly had a deal that if one of them passed, the other would be able to buy out the portion of the band’s corporation from the estate of the deceased member. Yesterday, the news was revealed Becker’s estate doesn’t plan to honor the deal and as such Fagen has filed lawsuit in aims of getting control of the Steely Dan name and assets.

According to the lengthy lawsuit, shared by Pitchfork, the original five members of Steely Dan entered into a buy/sell agreement in 1972. By recent years, Fagen and Becker were the only remaining partners and the lawsuit states the pair reiterated their intention to abide by the buy/sell agreement in 2010. So, when Becker died Fagen expected to be able to buy Walter’s portion of the Steely Dan corporation including control of the website and the band’s name. However, four days after Becker’s passing, Donald received a note from Walter’s estate claiming the 1972 deal “is of no force or effect.”

One thing the drama explains is the lack of updates on and on the band’s Facebook page. Apparently, Walter’s widow has control of those properties. Fagen also claims that Steely Dan’s business management firm of Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein & Bolno has been withholding accounting records. Donald’s lawsuit asks the courts to enforce the buy/sell agreement, give him control of the website and other properties and have the management firm provide a full accounting of Steely Dan’s finances.

“This lawsuit is about a contract, the enforcement of that contract and the continuity of Steely Dan,” Fagen’s attorney Louis “Skip” Miller told The Hollywood Reporter, who broke the story. “We think the contract is very clear on its face, and we hope this lawsuit is resolved expeditiously.” Steely Dan recently completed the band’s first tour of the post Becker-era. Donald Fagen’s camp filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in L.A. County Superior Court. Stay tuned.