“Thousands of Lawyers Fight” for Steely Dan’s Royalties


Donald Fagen said that “thousands of lawyers” were probably involved in an ongoing struggle against Steely Dan’s royalties as he tried to focus on the creative life without Walter Becker.

By the time Becker passed away in 2017, he had been living with cancer for some time. In a recent interview with Tablet, Fagen was asked if writing and performing in the absence of his late bandmate was a “bizarre” experience.

“Well, it wasn’t that strange because he was ill for almost a decade before his death, and he hadn’t been that active,” he replied. “I used to try to keep things afloat. Although the fact that he’s just not there is scary enough. But in a way, he’s still there. It is in my body. We’ve been together for so long, he’s like my brother, you know.

He recalled that “when I met Walter… in the late 60s we were really different in the real circumstances of our childhood, but we dug the same things. what they called “black humor” at the time. … And there were conversations in these novels that were almost supernaturally unfiltered. People just said what they thought. This particular thing was something that Walter and I understood, and it was in the back of our minds when we were writing lyrics.

On changes in the music industry, Fagen – who sued Becker’s estate for ownership of the group’s intellectual property – said the Steely Dan royalty situation was “a long story constantly pursues “. “There are probably thousands of lawyers fighting over this right now, as we speak,” he noted. “But more generally these days it’s all about streaming.”

Turning to the status of the album format, he argued that “you can’t separate the LP from a particular sequence of songs.… Coming after The Beatles and Dylan, we just slipped into this place where an album, about 40 minutes of music, that could be a job. I know people still release albums, but I don’t know if it’s the same. On the one hand, kids listen to it on these little pods or play it on their computer speakers, so there’s more high fidelity, which was part of the stuff, of the experience, it’s like watching movies on Netflix… it’s just not the same support.

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