Earlier this fall, the rock and jazz communities took a massive hit when Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker unexpectedly died at the age of 67. But those hoping to catch the band’s other founder, Donald Fagen, on the road in the near future to honor his friend might have to brace themselves for the worst-case scenario: no music, new or old, for a long time. Per Rolling Stone, Fagen is suing Becker’s estate in order to retain control of the band and keep the Steely Dan name. The crux of the lawsuit boils down to a buy/sell agreement the duo signed before the release of their first album in the 1970s, which stipulated “that if a member of Steely Dan quit or died, the band would purchase all of that member’s shares in the group.” However, four days after Becker’s death, Fagen alleges he received a letter from Becker’s estate that said the agreement is “of no force or effect,” and Becker’s widow is insisting that she’s entitled to 50 percent ownership of the band — as well as a director or officer title.
Among the many details in Fagen’s lawsuit, he claims Becker “reaffirmed his commitment to the buy/sell Agreement and its validity” in 2009, when Becker even shot down attempts to tweak it in any way — making the duo the “only remaining shareholders and signatories to the buy/sell Agreement” at the time of his death. Additionally, Fagen is also suing the band’s longtime business-management firm for “engaging in other secretive behaviors.” (How mysterious.) A court date has yet to be scheduled, but we have a feeling that Ohhhh, noooo, 50 percent won’t do for Fagen.