Vicky Cornell, the widow of late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, has sued the group once again, this time over a buyout offer for Chris’ shares in Soundgarden. Details from this lawsuit were obtained by Blabbermouth, which detail Cornell’s multi-million dollar offers to Soundgarden’s guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Hunter Benedict “Ben” Shepherd.
At the corner of this controversy are seven recordings known as the SG files, which are titled and credited by the band as the following: “Road Less Traveled,” (Cornell/Cameron) “Orphans,” (Cornell/Cameron) “At Ophians Door,” (Cornell/Cameron) “Cancer,” (Cornell) “Ahead Of The Dog,” (Cornell/Thayil) “Merrmas” (Cornell/Shepherd) and “Stone Age Mind” (Cornell). Cornell claims that these files were recorded by Chris in his home studio, but the band alleges that they were recorded in Seattle and New York City, while the band was touring. These files are currently in Cornell’s possession, however The PRP asserts that the band is “still seeking to gain the proper rights to them to release them as part of what will likely be a final album from Soundgarden.”
Cornell alleges that the band only offered her $300,000 for Chris’ share in these works, which she has adamantly rejected. According to these documents, Cornell made a counter-offer of $4 million per each surviving band member last December, which was recently increased to $7 million, making a total of $21 million for a prospective buyout. According to these documents, Cornell would increase this amount if they would share “underlying information,” but alleges that the band declined this offer as well.
The lawsuit has also alleged that the band received a $16 million offer for the rights to these master recordings from an outside investor. These documents also claim that Cornell believes that her counteroffer was worth more than what the members’ shares of the Soundgarden were actually worth.
“On December 29, 2020, Defendants summarily rejected Vicky‘s twelve-million dollar offer, noting that the Surviving Band Members have no interest in selling their interests in the Soundgarden Partnership ‘because these interests represent their creative life’s-work’ — a statement that both overreaches (because neither Cameron nor Shepherd were original members of Soundgarden) and overlooks (because the vast majority of the band’s works — over 73% — were authored by Chris and because Chris‘ interest in the Soundgarden Partnership also represents Chris‘ ‘creative life’s work’),” the lawsuit states.
The legal battles between Cornell and Soundgarden go back several years, with Cornell filing a lawsuit in late 2019, alleging that the band owed her unpaid royalties. The band would later claim ownership of the SG files and filed a countersuit alleging Cornell appropriated funds from a charity concert in honor of Chris for personal use. Their countersuit was eventually dropped.
Photo Credit: Alyssa Fried