Chris Cornell tribute concert
[Photo by: Whitney Newell]

The remaining members of Soundgarden have officially filed a response to the late Chris Cornell‘s widow, Vicky Cornell. The motion alleges that Vicky Cornell does not, in fact, own the last recordings of Chris Cornell because they were a collaborative effort.

The response is an attempt by Soundgarden members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd to prove that Vicky has no claim to those recordings and to dispute Vicky’s claim that they were “uncaring” following Chris’ death in 2017.

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Vicky Cornell filed the initial lawsuit against Soundgarden in December. She alleged the band was not paying her owed royalties. They were attempting to strong-arm her into releasing the rights to songs Cornell left to his estate before his passing.

“[Soundgarden] have shamelessly conspired to wrongfully withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars indisputably owed to Chris’ widow and minor children in an unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris’ Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away.” The court filing reads.  

Vicky Cornell also alleges that Soundgarden has put her and her family in harm’s way. She says they stated she is the only reason Soundgarden has yet to release a new album. She claims that Soundgarden is attempting to incite their “rabid fan base.”

Vicky took to Instagram to post about her struggle. And about doing what is best to honor her late husband’s work and protect their children.

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This was not the way I would have chosen to move forward. But I will not be pushed aside for someone else’s convenience or gain. I will not sacrifice our children’s futures for someone else’s greed. And I will not let someone else make me feel shame because the man I loved was taken from all of us too soon.

I will do justice by my husband’s work and memory; for our children and for everything we stood for. I want to thank everyone who has stood by Chris and has supported us through this devastating time. Your love and your kindness will never be forgotten.

View this post on Instagram

I have been taking time these past few weeks to be grateful for all the good people around me and for those who have lifted me up at the very worst times in my life. The silver lining, during the storm, is finding and appreciating the subtle glow of those who sincerely support you in your life unconditionally. However, sometimes while you grieve the one you physically lost, you realize that you must now grieve the loss of some of those you considered friends and family as well. I am shocked at how often this occurs. It’s not just me, or the rock-star widow, or the political widow; it is the case for the vast majority of women after their partners have passed. It transcends socio-economic class, race, and religion. It is an unpleasant and unfortunately all too common theme. Hard-hearted family members, friends, and business associates; who will exploit a widow’s vulnerability when she’s broken and alone. These other people who have decided that her time is up as well. Through support groups and other widowed friends, and during both difficult and supportive conversations, I have learned that I am not a unique case. This seems to be the inevitable plight of the widow in this world and I cannot help feeling angry, sad and betrayed. I will not be bullied or shamed into silence. I will not accept something so wrong, so lacking in compassion or decency, even with the clear but unspoken threat of social rejection hanging over me. This was not the way I would have chosen to move forward. But I will not be pushed aside for someone else’s convenience or gain. I will not sacrifice our children’s futures for someone else’s greed. And I will not let someone else make me feel shame because the man I loved was taken from all of us too soon. I will do justice by my husband’s work and memory; for our children and for everything we stood for. I want to thank everyone who has stood by Chris and has supported us through this devastating time. Your love and your kindness will never be forgotten. #chriscornell forever 🖤

A post shared by Vicky Cornell (@vickycornell) on

Now, in a motion filed in a Miami, Florida court on Feb. 4, members of Soundgarden are disputing the claim that Vicky has sole possession of the recordings.

Vicky claims that all of the recordings were solely authored by Chris in his recording studio. Soundgarden contend that’s not the case. They say the recordings and authoring were a collaborative effort that could date back as far as 2011.

The official motion describes the events in which Vicky gained possession of the recordings and the events that followed.

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The Album Files were stored on at least one (and perhaps more) of Cornell’s laptops, and perhaps on other of Cornell’s computers or devices, because he had been working on his vocal and instrumental parts for the new tracks while on tour (using the method of “overdubbing”). Out of respect for Cornell’s family, the Surviving Band Members and the Band’s team promptly arranged delivery of all of Cornell’s personal effects, including his laptop(s), to Vicky Cornell. Unfortunately, the Surviving Band Members subsequently realized that Cornell had the only existing multi-track versions of the seven unreleased Sound Recordings that include Cornell’s vocal and instrumental overdubs, along with other unique Album Files. 

Soundgarden then claim to have reached out to Vicky regarding the recordings. They wanted to see if there was sufficient material to release a final album. They believe they owed that project to Chris.

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Soundgarden is citing evidence of numerous emails and text messages with Vicky. She allegedly refers to the recordings as “SG files”. There are also press statements where Chris spoke about working on and recording new music.

In the preliminary statement, Soundgarden clearly state their intentions are to share due profits with Vicky.

This action is premised on basic falsehoods. Vicky Cornell is not the owner of the recordings at issue, which are provably Soundgarden’s and intended for a new Soundgarden album. Vicky Cornell is entitled to distributions from the Soundgarden partnership for Cornell’s share of band revenues, but only on the vote of the partnership which has not taken place. There is no “conspiracy” with the band’s financial manager.

Perhaps most importantly, Soundgarden wish to move the lawsuit to their native state of Washington. Cornell is purported to live in New York and they live in Washington. They allege it makes no sense as to why the lawsuit is in Florida jurisdiction.

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Vicky Cornell’s lawsuit also alleges how Soundgarden responded to Chris’ death. She claims they were callous and uncaring.

The band refutes that claim, saying they learned about his passing on social media and described the actions that followed.

“As their buses were headed to Columbus in the early morning of May 18th, the surviving band members learned that Cornell had been found dead in his hotel room in Detroit after midnight (tragically, Cameron first saw a ‘RIP: Chris Cornell’ item on his Facebook page, called Thayil who was on the other bus, who then woke Shepherd, and they and their crew frantically searched news, social media and called friends and family, until they received the awful confirmation from their tour manager,)” The motion reads.

“Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd were utterly devastated to lose their beloved friend, brother, and comrade, and were in a state of shock. As they pulled their busses to the roadside, embraced each other, and struggled with what to do next, their tour manager advised them not to go back to Detroit as it would be swimming with police, press, and other media, and there was nothing positive they could achieve. They also had a throng of highly-distraught crew and tour team members already in or headed to Columbus who needed support. So they organized a vigil in a conference room at their Columbus hotel, where they were accompanied by crew, assistants, and friends who hugged, wept, and attempted to console each other for many hours.”

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In a response to Soundgarden’s motion regarding these incidents, Vicky Cornell’s attorney Marty Singer, claimed otherwise.

“We obviously disagree with the band’s blatant mischaracterization of events, and stand by the truthful facts set forth in our complaint. It is disappointing that Chris’ former band members have now sought to taint his legacy by making numerous false allegations, and that they continue to withhold substantial monies from his widow and minor children (despite using those same funds to pay for their own legal fees). The issue in this case is not who wrote the songs but rather who owns the specific recordings made solely by Chris while he resided in Florida. 

Soundgarden also state that they believed they were having productive and amicable conversations regarding the recordings. And that Vicky Cornell filed the lawsuit without warning. The entire motion can be read here.

The entire thing is a messy business and we hope things work out for all parties involved. Both parties believe they want what is best. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon.

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