LOS ANGELES — Donald Fagen of Steely Dan is suing the estate of his late band mate, Walter Becker, over ownership of the band’s name and music.
Fagen’s attorneys filed papers last week in Los Angeles claiming that when Becker died in September, his estate was obligated to honor an agreement between the men stipulating that if one should die or otherwise leave the band, the other would buy back his “shares” in the group.
Becker’s representatives are calling the suit “unwarranted and frivolous.” They said Monday that the 45-year-old agreement was not in effect when he died.
“In our view, Mr. Fagen is unfairly trying to deprive Walter’s family of the fruits of their joint labors,” the estate said in a statement, adding that it had been working toward a compromise with Fagen’s lawyers.
Fagen’s attorney Skip Miller said Monday that “the agreement at the heart of the suit is as valid as the day it was signed.”
“Mr. Fagen believes Mr. Becker’s estate is entitled to receive all normal royalties on the songs they wrote together,” he said. “But this case is about the future of the band, and we will vigorously defend the contract.”