Sadly, things have seemingly turned ugly between the late Chris Cornell’s widow, Vicky Cornell, and the surviving Soundgarden band members. According to TMZ, Vicky is suing Soundgarden over unpaid royalties and the rights to seven unreleased songs.
In the lawsuit, Vicky claims that her late husband’s estate is owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties by the band. She also suggests that the lack of payment is an “unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris’ Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away.”
Additionally, Vicky claims that Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil endangered Cornell’s family by suggesting that Vicky was the main obstacle in releasing the music, saying that Thayil’s comments were misleading to Soundgarden’s “loyal, rabid fan base.”
The comments in question may stem from a pair of recent interviews Thayil did with Music Radar and SiriusXM.
“We’ve asked nicely, we’ve suggested that this will benefit all parties, if the band could just have these files, and we could finish the songs we were working on,” Thayil told Music Radar this past summer. “But there seems to be some confusion amongst various parties as to what that would entail and how that works, and who that would benefit. And it’s been tiring, you know. And we can’t move on until some future date when someone realizes the value of allowing the creative partners to have access to the material.”
He later told SiriusXM, “We can get the producers we want to make it sound like a Soundgarden record. … And I think it will happen. It would be ridiculous if it didn’t. But these are difficult things — partnerships and property.”
TMZ reports that the band members penned a letter to Vicky, claiming that they had been “working on the files in a collaborative effort” and that “the entire band was feeling very positive about their rekindled artistic energy and creativity”. The letter also alleges that five of the seven unreleased tracks featured other members of the band as co-songwriters.
For her part, Vicky contends the seven unreleased tracks were “solely authored by Chris; contain Chris’ own vocal tracks; and were bequeathed to Chris’ Estate”. She adds that she has been willing to work with Soundgarden in releasing the new music in a way that Chris would have wanted, including using his producer, but that the band has refused to comply.
Chris Cornell died on May 18th, 2017, at the age of 52. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging.