Alternative rock band Soundgarden have responded to Vicky Cornell’s lawsuit, regarding the ownership of unreleased material recorded by her late husband, Chris Cornell, who served as the band’s frontman. The band have claimed ownership over the unreleased material, while countering the allegations that she was the sole owner of the recordings and that they withheld royalties from her, which was claimed in the lawsuit.
Vicky Cornell’s suit alleged that Chris Cornell recorded the tracks at his home studio in Florida, and claimed that their was no explicit agreement that these recordings were made for Soundgarden, making Cornell the exclusive owner. She further alleged that she agreed to share the songs as long as she was allowed to be involved in the band’s marketing strategy for any possible album that would include these recordings, and if the band worked with a “trusted producer,” which was revealed to be veteran producer Brendan O’ Brien in a new court document.
Band members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd, and the band’s business manager, Rit Venerus were the members specifically referred to in her lawsuit. The band has denied all claims, and have argued that the unreleased recordings stem from writing and recording sessions that date back as far as 2015.
Soundgarden have stated that Vicky Cornell referred to the unreleased recordings as the “SG files” and cite an email where she stated that her late husband was travelling for a new “SG record.” The band allege that these files were not recorded in Cornell’s home studio, as Vicky Cornell claimed, but in Seattle and New York City, and while the band was touring.
The band also gave the recordings song titles, along with writing credits. These song credits allege that each band member co-wrote at least one song with Cornell, with Cameron being credited on three of the tracks. According to these credits, only two tracks, “Cancer” and “Stone Age Mind” were exclusively written by Cornell.
The tracks are titled and credited by the band as follows: “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).
Soundgarden claim that all band members worked on the tracks, which are in Vicky Cornell’s possession, therefore all of the parties involved are owed monies from the recordings. They also elaborated that “none of the band members nor Plaintiff will be paid until expenses are paid and the partnership shares of earnings can be calculated and distributed.”
Their response also questioned Cornell’s decision to file the suit in Florida, as she lives in New York, while the band is based out of Seattle. The band claim that her complaint was filed without notice, and alleged that they sought “productive and amicable conversations trying to find a way to work with Vicky.” The band have also disputed the claim that they “behaved callously at the time of Chris Cornell’s death,” which was alleged in Cornell’s lawsuit.
“We don’t have possession of our own creative work,” Soundgarden said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
Vicky Cornell’s attorney’s have responded to their claims stating “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.'”
This isn’t the only suit that Vicky Cornell has filed since her husband’s death. Back in 2018 she filed a malpractice lawsuit against her husband’s former doctor, alleging that he did not properly examine the late performer.
Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat