Chris Cornell’s widow Vicky sues Soundgarden over rights and royalties

Soundgarden (Image credit: UMC)

Vicky Cornell, the widow of Chris Cornell, is suing Soundgarden over the rights and royalties to seven unreleased tracks, according to TMZ.

They say that legal papers filed today allege that Cornell’s bandmates are withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties which are owed to her and the vocalist’s minor children.

The legal documents are said to describe an “unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris' Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away,” with the website reporting that the rights to seven specific recordings lie at the heart of the dispute.

Vicky says she’s offered to share the material which was "solely authored by Chris, contain Chris' own vocal tracks, and were bequeathed to Chris' Estate" with guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd, but with stipulations laid down, including which producer would be involved. It’s reported the band refused. 

Vicky has also accused Thayil of putting her family in harm’s way for misleading Soundgarden's "rabid fan base" by suggesting she's the one scuppering the chances of Soundgarden releasing a new album. 

On the flip side, Soundgarden have reportedly reached out to Vicky, saying that prior to Cornell’s death in May 2017, the band had been "working on the files in a collaborative effort," adding: "The entire band was feeling very positive about their rekindled artistic energy and creativity.”

Soundgarden have also reportedly listed the names of various members as co-songwriters with Cornell on five of the seven disputed tracks.

Vicky has also released a statement which reads: “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 realise 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.

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

Vicky Cornell

“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.”

In July this year, Thayil admitted Soundgarden weren’t in possession of a number of demos that the band had recorded in conjunction with Cornell, telling Music Radar: "We have copies, but what we need are the files, so that we’d be able to overdub and finish the record. We are not in possession of those.”

Asked what it would take to get hold of the files, Thayil said: “We don’t know. We’ve asked nicely, we’ve suggested that this will benefit all parties, if the band could just have these files, and we could finish the songs we were working on.

“But there seems to be some confusion amongst various parties as to what that would entail and how that works, and who that would benefit. 

“It’s been tiring and we can’t move on until some future date when someone realises the value of allowing the creative partners to have access to the material.”

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.