Steely Dan: Walter Becker’s estate respond to Donald Fagen’s lawsuit

Donald Fagen and Walter Becker
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker

Walter Becker’s estate have slammed the lawsuit brought against them by Donald Fagen for control over Steely Dan.

It was reported last week that Fagen was suing his late bandmate’s estate after he received a letter from them saying that the Buy/Sell Agreement he and Becker signed in 1972 – stipulating that if a member of Steely Dan died or quit, the band would buy all of that person’s shares in the group – had “no force or effect.”

In light of Fagen’s lawsuit, Becker’s estate have fired back a response, calling it “unwarranted and frivolous.”

The statement reads: “We were disappointed to learn that Donald Fagen commenced a lawsuit against (the estate of) Walter Becker, his partner of 50 years, on the eve of Thanksgiving. We believe the agreement to which Mr Fagen refers in his suit – drafted 45 years ago – was not in effect at the time of Walter’s death.

“Mr Fagen’s lawsuit, riddled with half-truths and omissions, misleadingly fails to state that the day after Walter died, Mr Fagen had his lawyer send a demand letter to Walter’s estate, thus beginning a legal campaign against Walter’s family immediately after his death.”

The statement continues: “The misrepresentation that his widow, Ms Cioffi initiated any litigious action is simply untrue. In our view, Mr Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labours.

“Since Walter’s passing, we have endeavoured to achieve a compromise with Mr Fagen. We were close to a resolution with his longtime counsel who he suddenly fired.

“We then negotiated in good faith with replacement counsel who Mr Fagen also fired. Mr Fagen’s third and current lawyer did not even attempt to contact us prior to filing a lawsuit.”

The statement concludes: “While we regret Mr Fagen’s latest actions, we will vigorously defend against his unwarranted and frivolous case.”

Last week, it was also reported that Fagen is suing Steely Dan’s business management firm Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein & Bolno, alleging that they have been withholding information from him, including royalty statements and tour income records.

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Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.