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SOUNDGARDEN RESPONDS TO LAWSUIT

In a contentious legal battle, the surviving members of SoundgardenKim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd—have responded to a lawsuit filed against them by Vicky Cornell, widow of singer Chris Cornell, back in December 2019. 

The bandmembers claim that they own seven recordings made before the late singer's death in 2017, while Vicky Cornell claims that her husband made those seven recordings at his personal studio in Florida in 2017, and therefore they're owned by the Cornell Estate. 

In this new filing, members of Soundgarden claim that the unreleased recordings stemmed from writing and recording sessions that date back as far as 2015. In a statement, the band insisted, “We don’t have possession of our own creative work.”

Vicky Cornell has accused the band of withholding royalties from the Cornell family to force her to turn over the recordings, and further claimed that she had agreed to share the unreleased recordings with Soundgarden, as long as they used one of Cornell’s “trusted producers,” and kept her informed about a possible album marketing strategy. 

Meanwhile, the key points from the band's filing are: 

  • Vicky Cornell has possession of the only existing multitrack recordings of the last Soundgarden tracks that include Chris Cornell’s instrumental parts and vocals. Although all the bandmembers jointly worked on these final tracks, she now claims ownership of the final Soundgarden album.
  • Vicky Cornell’s complaint claims she is owed monies. In fact, all of the bandmembers are also owed monies, but none of the bandmembers nor the plaintiff will be paid until expenses are paid and the partnership shares of earnings can be calculated and distributed.
  • The plaintiff lives in New York, while all surviving bandmembers live in the Seattle area. It's unclear why the lawsuit was filed in Florida.
  • During what Soundgarden felt were productive and amicable conversations in an effort to try and find a way to work with Vicky, the complaint was initiated without notice.
  • The complaint alleges that the bandmembers behaved callously at the time of Chris Cornell’s death. This, they insist, is patently false and emotionally abusive.

Marty Singer, attorney for Vicky Cornell at the Cornell Estate, said, “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.”

Photo: Brian Patterson/Shutterstock

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