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Ex-Steely Dan Singer David Palmer Sues Band Over Alleged Unpaid Royalties

Image courtesy of David Palmer, front row, center (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of David Palmer, front row, center (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) (via ABC News Radio)

Founding Steely Dan member David Palmer has launched a breach-of-contract lawsuit against his former band mates, claiming he's owed a percentage of royalties that the group earned from streaming digital services.

According to The Hollywood Reporter , Palmer says he discovered that he wasn't receiving his proper due after he was contacted last summer by the performers union AFTRA, which asked him whether he was entitled to royalties from his old band.  The singer contends that as part of an agreement he signed in 1972 establishing Steely Dan Inc. -- the company that oversees the band's music rights -- he is supposed to receive one-sixth of the royalties earned by each song on which he appeared.  AFTRA directed Palmer to SoundExchange, the organization that administers digital-performance rights, and which apparently found that all streaming royalties from tunes on which Palmer sung were going to SDI.

Palmer says after contacting SoundExchange, his royalty situation was resolved moving forward from this past year, and he was issued a modest $8,000 check from SDI.  However, he contends that he's still owed money from digital royalties earned between 2000, when SoundExchange was founded, until 2013.  According to The Hollywood Reporter , his suit, which was filed Friday in Los Angeles, charges SDI with "breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, money had and received, and accounting."

Palmer sang lead and backing vocals on Steely Dan's 1972 debut album, Can't Buy a Thrill , and also contributed to the group's sophomore effort, Countdown to Ecstasy , before leaving the band in 1973. He's best-known for singing lead on the well-known Can't Buy a Thrill track, "Dirty Work."

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