Last November, Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen filed a lawsuit against the estate of fellow co-founder Walter Becker, following the latter’s death in September at age 67. Becker’s estate responded to the lawsuit with motion to dismiss the case concerning enforcement of a contract entered by the pair of musicians in 1972.
Fagen claims in his pleadings that he, Becker and other members of Steely Dan entered into a buy/sell agreement in 1972 that stated if one of the signers died, the surviving members would buy out the deceased’s stake in the band, including the name Steely Dan. Following Becker’s passing on September 3, Fagen became the only remaining living signer of the agreement.
Fagen commenced the legal action to enforce the agreement in November of last year. As noted by Pitchfork, Becker’s estate responded with their motion to dismiss Fagen’s lawsuit on January 19. The pleading claims the 1972 agreement contains language triggering an “automatic termination” of the terms “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.” According to the Becker estate’s motion, rather than Fagen becoming the sole owner of the Steely Dan assets, the 1972 agreement is no longer enforceable and Becker’s estate should retain 50 percent ownership in the legendary band.
Fagen responded to the motion to dismiss stating the “automatic termination” terms were only meant to be enforced after an event occurred in which someone, like Fagen in this instance, became the lone stockholder. The motion in response also states, “It would be unfair for one band member — in this case Fagen — to continue to tour as Steely Dan and do all the work while a deceased band member’s heirs reap half the benefits.”
Fagen recently announced that Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers will embark on The Summer Of Living Dangerously Tour. The co-headlining tour begins on May 10 in Charlotte, North Carolina and continues through July.
Read the Becker estate’s motion to dismiss and its response from Fagen via Pitchfork.