Donald Fagen has denied Aimee Mann’s claim that she was dropped as the opening act for Steely Dan’s new tour because, as she speculated, “they thought their audience wouldn’t like a female singer-songwriter.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Fagen explained, “Well, first of all, the idea that I would make any decision based on the gender of a performer is ridiculous. That’s something that would never even occur to me.”
Fagen also noted that female singer-songwriters like Phoebe Snow and Rickie Lee Jones had served as opening acts for Steely Dan in the past.
On Instagram Wednesday, Mann, a self-professed Dan fan, posted a comic strip about being dropped from the Steely Dan tour; when the trek was announced, both Mann and Snarky Puppy were enlisted as the opening act, replacing Steve Winwood.
“I was supposed to open for Steely Dan this summer. I just found out that they took me off the bill,” Mann wrote in the captions of the comic. “No one is entirely sure why, but it seems they thought their audience wouldn’t like a female singer-songwriter? As it happens, Steely Dan is the one band that I 100% love, with no reservations, so it really sucks. But you know what? People are allowed to not like you, for whatever reason.”
However, Fagen explained Thursday, “There was a communication problem on our end. I was misinformed as to how firm the commitment was to any particular opening act. And, although I have the greatest respect for Aimee as a writer and performer, I thought it might not be the best matchup in terms of musical style.”
Fagen also apologized to Mann for the miscommunication, adding, “But I can’t pass the buck. I’ll take the blame for the screwup. I apologize for any distress this has caused Aimee and her fans.”
A rep for Mann told Rolling Stone of the Steely Dan situation, “Her illustration says it all.” Mann seemed to take the screwup in good spirit, joking on Twitter Wednesday night — prior to Fagen’s statement — “All is forgiven if Donald just tells me what ‘Brooklyn‘ is about.” The singer will also embark on her own headlining tour next month.