The surviving members of Soundgarden have filed a motion requesting access to the band’s social media pages, which are currently under the control of Vicky Cornell, the widow of Chris Cornell. The band has made the allegation that Cornell has locked them out of the accounts, as well as the official website, alleging that she has changed the passwords.
Cornell had first filed a lawsuit against surviving members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd, as well as the band’s business manager Rit Venerus, in 2019, with Cornell asking that she be declared the rightful owner to her husband’s unreleased recordings, his name and his likeness. She then also made the allegation that Soundgarden had been withholding money from her.
The new lawsuit finds the band alleging that Cornell has been locking them out of the social media accounts ever since her first lawsuit against them. The documents state that the social media accounts had first been held by their management company, Patriot Management. However, when the company had been terminated in October 2019, the company allegedly handed the accounts over to Cornell.
According to the court filing, an email dated December 3, 2019 allegedly read, “Vicky [Cornell] has since changed all the social media passwords for the band accounts and will not share them with [Patriot] as she wants the band, and I quote, ‘to sue her for them.’”
Soundgarden’s Twitter account has largely been inactive over the past year, and its verification badge has been removed. Their last two tweets had been a retweet of an old Soundgarden video and a throwback post to the release of the music video for “By Crooked Steps,” which had been directed by Dave Grohl.
The band’s Instagram and Facebook pages continue to remain active, paying tribute to Chris Cornell and highlighting Soundgarden throwbacks. A hearing for the band’s request is set for April 16.
Last week, a judge had recommended that two of Cornell’s six claims that she has filed against Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd be dismissed. The judge, Michelle Peterson, stated that there is no evidence of withheld royalties. The band has claimed that the disputed funds are actually owned by the band’s partnership. The judge had also recommended the claim that the band’s manager, Rit Venerus, had breached his responsibility to look after her best interests. The judge found that he had never agreed to be her advisor, and was only there to act as an intermediary between Cornell and the band.
The band had allegedly offered Cornell $300,000 for her late husband’s interests in the group. Cornell declined, calling it a “villainously low figure.” She then responded with a lawsuit offering the band first $16 million, then $21 million, for their rights. At the core of all these legal disputes are unreleased vocal demos created by Chris Cornell, which the band hopes to turn into a final album.
Representatives from Vicky Cornell have provided mxdwn with two statements. The first one had come from Cornell’s attorney, Marty Singer.
“Ms. Cornell’s forthcoming motion will expose the truth about the Soundgarden’s supposed social media accounts,” Singer said in the statement. “Ms. Cornell created the social media accounts; grew the accounts by allowing them to trade on Chris’ then-existing, popular accounts; devoted her personal time and money in growing these accounts as Soundgarden displayed absolutely no interest in social media (unless it was to promote their solo projects). Ms. Cornell has overseen these accounts for close to a decade. The fact that Soundgarden is unaware of the user-names and passwords for their alleged ‘own’ accounts confirms their utter lack of involvement in creating, growing and maintaining their alleged accounts.”
“Soundgarden solely wants the social media accounts in order to maliciously defame Ms. Cornell, provoke her online stalkers (as Matt Cameron has done continuously) and to instigate third-parties to harass Ms. Cornell and her minor children.”
“Moreover, while they now claim a sense of urgency, Soundgarden’s claim are a stale repackaging of the claims that they filed in the Florida court in May of 2020.”
Chris Cornell’s manager, Ron Laffitte, also provided a statement.
“During my 6 years working with Chris Cornell and Soundgarden, Chris and Vicky always controlled all of Soundgarden’s social media accounts, both directly and through their own personal social media representative,” Laffitte said. “At no time were any other members of Soundgarden involved, and this was true both before and after Chris died. Because of this, Soundgarden’s attempt to seek an injunction in connection with the social media accounts is surprising to say the least.”
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat