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Dispute between Soundgarden and Chris Cornell’s widow goes legal

By | Published on Tuesday 10 December 2019


A dispute between the widow of late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and his former bandmates has gone legal. Vicky Cornell claims that the other members of Soundgarden have been withholding royalties and making false statements in a bid to force her to hand over seven recordings of new songs that her late husband made before his death in 2017.

According to Cornell’s lawsuit, Soundgarden members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd are keen to access those recordings in order to include them on a possible new album. She insists that she has been supportive of that proposal, but on the condition that the band develop said recordings in a way that “respects her late husband’s legacy and wishes”. That includes involving a specific producer and liaising with her on any marketing plans in relation to the proposed new LP.

Cornell says that Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd initially agreed to those conditions, but subsequently backtracked, later claiming that the band owned the seven recordings in question via the partnership they had with her husband. She strongly denies this, insisting that only Chris Cornell was involved in writing and recording the new tracks, and therefore he was the sole copyright owner, with those rights then passing to his estate.

“After rejecting Vicky’s offer to share Chris’s recordings according to Chris’s wishes”, the lawsuit claims, Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd – and their business manager Rit Venerus – “resorted to strong-arm tactics”. This includes “withholding royalties undeniably owed to Chris’s estate” and “on which Chris’s three surviving children are dependent”. And also suggesting in media interviews that she is blocking a new Soundgarden album.

The latter claims, Cornell says, have put her and her family at risk. “Chris’s former band members menaced Chris’s family with false media statements intended to rile the cyberstalkers”, the lawsuit reckons, later adding that “even after being shown examples of the online hate directed towards Chris’s children, Thayil persisted”.

“By knowingly imperilling Chris’s family with such callous cruelty, the former band members have revealed their monstrous avarice for the sound recordings which they neither created nor own”, yesterday’s legal filing then boldly states.

Insisting that Vicky Cornell is reluctantly launching this lawsuit after numerous unsuccessful attempts to work out a solution with the band, her legal filing concludes that the litigation “seeks to vindicate her late-husband’s rights in the sound recordings that he created” and “to recover the substantial sums of money and personal property that are being unlawfully withheld by Venerus and the band”.