The surviving members of Soundgarden filed a new motion in court on Tuesday (February 4th) in which they denied withholding royalties from late singer Chris Cornell’s widow and refuted her claim that she is the sole owner of several recordings Cornell worked on before his death.
The motion is a response to a lawsuit Vicky Cornell filed last December against guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd, as well as the band’s business manager, Rit Venerus. Vicky accused the band of withholding royalties from the Cornell family in order to force her to turn over the recordings, which were ostensibly made in preparation for a new Soundgarden LP.
Vicky claimed that Chris made seven recordings at his personal studio in Florida in 2017, and that there was no explicit agreement that that they were for Soundgarden, making the Cornell family the exclusive owners. Vicky also claimed that she agreed to share the unreleased recordings with Soundgarden, so long as they used producer Brendan O’ Brien to complete the album and kept her informed about a possible album marketing strategy.
She then claimed that Soundgarden eventually decided to bring in its own producer and did not want to involve her in marketing the LP. She also accused the band members of making false statements to the media about who owned the unreleased recordings, finally alleging that Soundgarden was withholding money from her family.
In the new filing, Soundgarden claimed that the unreleased recordings date back as far as 2015 and were made mostly in Seattle, New York or on the road, and not Florida. The band also denied Vicky’s claim that it’s purposely withholding money from her, with the motion stating that no one in the band is being paid at the moment. The motion also questions Vicky’s decision to file her lawsuit in Florida, claiming that Washington — where the Seattle-based band is from — would be a more appropriate jurisdiction.
The band stated in part, "Vicky Cornell has possession of the only existing multi-track recordings of the last Soundgarden tracks that include Chris Cornell's instrumental parts and vocals. All of the band members jointly worked on these final tracks. Vicky now claims ownership of the final Soundgarden album."
Soundgarden also pushed back on Vicky's claim that the band was "uncaring" about her husband's May 2017 death, detailing that the band members were on buses headed for their next gig in Columbus, Ohio when they learned via social media that their singer — who had stayed behind in Detroit and planned to fly to Columbus the next day — had committed suicide in his hotel room after that night's show.
Cornell estate attorney Marty Singer responded, “We obviously disagree with the band’s blatant mischaracterization of events, and stand by the truthful facts set forth in our complaint."