Vicky Cornell, the widow of late Soundgarden and Audioslave singer Chris Cornell, is suing Chris’ former bandmates for allegedly withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from Vicky and Chris’ family, in addition to Soundgarden’s attempt to profit from Cornell’s unreleased recordings.
According to a report shared by TMZ, legal documents filed Monday in Florida Federal Court claims the surviving members of Soundgarden–in particular, lead guitarist Kim Thayil–have made false or misleading statements about the state of the unreleased, unfinished recordings to Soundgarden’s “loyal, rabid fan base.” The lawsuit also characterizes the withholding of royalties by Soundgarden band members as, “an unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris’ Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away.”
The seven recordings that Chris made shortly before his suicide in 2017 are the crux of this case, members of Soundgarden have stated on numerous occasions that they wish to complete those recordings with the rest of the band, using the same producers and techniques that the band would have used during their 1990’s heyday. However, Vicky Cornell maintains that Chris was working on these projects by himself without any collaboration with the band, and that she will eventually release the tracks in a manner befitting with Chris’ wishes when he bequeathed the songs to the family estate in 2017. She said she made this offer to what remains of Soundgarden, to which they refused.
The lawsuit explicitly points the finger at Thayil for allegedly putting Vicky and the Cornell children in danger when he depicted her as the main obstacle to the release of unheard Soundgarden material. The comments stem from an interview Thayill did with Music Radar and Sirius XM.
“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.”
Thayil 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.”
The pending lawsuit also comes as Soundgarden is finally being nominated for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, bringing added drama to the case.
Vicky shared an Instagram post after filing the documents, using the platform to tell her side of the story. She writes, “This was not the way I would have chosen to move forward. But I will not be pushed aside for someone else’s convenience or gain.” She continues, “I will do justice by my husband’s work and memory; for our children and for everything we stood for.”
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I have been taking time these past few weeks to be grateful for all the good people around me and for those who have lifted me up at the very worst times in my life. The silver lining, during the storm, is finding and appreciating the subtle glow of those who sincerely support you in your life unconditionally. However, sometimes while you grieve the one you physically lost, you realize that you must now grieve the loss of some of those you considered friends and family as well. I am shocked at how often this occurs. It’s not just me, or the rock-star widow, or the political widow; it is the case for the vast majority of women after their partners have passed. It transcends socio-economic class, race, and religion. It is an unpleasant and unfortunately all too common theme. Hard-hearted family members, friends, and business associates; who will exploit a widow’s vulnerability when she’s broken and alone. These other people who have decided that her time is up as well. Through support groups and other widowed friends, and during both difficult and supportive conversations, I have learned that I am not a unique case. This seems to be the inevitable plight of the widow in this world and I cannot help feeling angry, sad and betrayed. I will not be bullied or shamed into silence. I will not accept something so wrong, so lacking in compassion or decency, even with the clear but unspoken threat of social rejection hanging over me. This was not the way I would have chosen to move forward. But I will not be pushed aside for someone else’s convenience or gain. I will not sacrifice our children’s futures for someone else’s greed. And I will not let someone else make me feel shame because the man I loved was taken from all of us too soon. I will do justice by my husband’s work and memory; for our children and for everything we stood for. I want to thank everyone who has stood by Chris and has supported us through this devastating time. Your love and your kindness will never be forgotten. #chriscornell forever 🖤