As previously reported, Chris Cornell’s widow, Vicky filed a lawsuit against Soundgarden over royalties and the rights to seven unreleased tracks. Now, more details on the case have started to emerge.
Vicky previously said that the band have been withholding money in an “unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris’ Estate into turning over certain audio recordings” that she claimed Chris wrote alone while living in Florida. She also said that she offered to share the tracks with Soundgarden if they respected Chris’ wishes by releasing them in a certain way and having his producer involved, but they allegedly refused. Vicky also accused guitarist Kim Thayil of putting her and her family in danger by suggesting that she is preventing the release of a new Soundgarden album.
For their part, Soundgarden claimed that Chris co-authored five of the recordings with other members of the band. According to TMZ, they have since shared press clips from past interviews to prove their case. This includes one from February 2017 in which Chris said the following to Music Radar: “We have a lot of interesting songs…”. They are now trying to get Vicky‘s complaint dismissed or moved from Florida to Washington where the band are based. The following was said in the motion:
“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.”
The motion also shared the names and writing credits for the recordings in question:
- “Road Less Traveled” (Cornell/Cameron)
- “Orphans” (Cornell/Cameron)
- “At Ophians Door” (Cornell/Cameron)
- “Cancer” (Cornell)
- “Ahead Of The Dog” (Cornell/Thayil)
- “Merrmas” (Cornell/Shepherd)
- “Stone Age Mind” (Cornell)
Furthermore, Soundgarden also revealed that they were initially unaware about Chris’ death until they read about it on social media:
“The Band interrupted its April 2017 studio session in Seattle to begin a national tours tarting on April 28, 2017. (Cameron Decl. ¶21.) On May 14, 2017, the Band played in Kansas City, Missouri. After the show Cornell flew home to New York City. On May 17, he flew to Detroit, Michigan to join other Band Members for a Soundgarden concert that night at the Fox Theatre. Following the concert — as was customary — Thayil, Cameron, and Shepherd (the “Surviving Band Members” or “Remaining Partners”) made the late night trip in the Band’s tour buses to their next concert destination in Columbus, Ohio, where the Band had a concert on May 19.
Cornell stayed behind at a Detroit hotel with the plan to fly on to Columbus, as was his normal practice because Cornell was unable to sleep on buses. As their buses were headed to Columbus in the early morning of May 18, 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).
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 buses 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 that could be achieved.
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 their crew, assistants and friends who hugged, wept and attempted to console each other for many hours.”
Vicky‘s lawyer Marty Singer has since responded to the band‘s claims:
“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. We are very confident that the Court will vindicate the rights of Chris’ Estate, and that the case will properly remain in Florida, where Chris resided and recorded the songs that are now the lawful property of his Estate.”
Soundgarden are currently requesting a hearing “due to the number of motions and number of issues involved.”
You can find court documents over at Scribd.