Soundgarden Fires Back at Vicky Cornell Over Ownership of New Songs

Lawrence Kim
February 5, 2020

Soundgarden have responded to a lawsuit from Chris Cornell's widow by asserting ownership of his final recordings.

Singer added, "The issue in this case is not who wrote the songs but rather who owns the specific recordings made exclusively by Chris while he resided in Florida". As their buses were headed to Columbus in the early morning of May 18, the Surviving Band Members learned that Cornell had been found dead in his hotel room in Detroit after midnight (tragically, Cameron first saw a "RIP: Chris Cornell" item on his Facebook page, called Thayil who was on the other bus, who then woke Shepherd, and they and their crew frantically searched news, social media and called friends and family, until they received the bad confirmation from their tour manager). She said she consented to share the songs for a future Soundgarden release, as long as they used a "trusted producer" and involved her in the posthumous marketing strategy.

The dispute is anchored upon tracks found on late husband Chris Cornell's laptop as well as unpaid royalties to the Cornell estate.

In new court documents, the band confirmed the existence of the songs but dispute her claims that Chris worked on them exclusively, thus making her the rightful owner after his death in May 2017.

"We don't have possession of our own creative work", Soundgarden said in a terse statement to Rolling Stone.

They claim she has no real connection to Florida and that Washington state would be more appropriate because the band has always been based in Seattle. Their rebuttal cites several email exchanges between all of the band members that reference the audio files and lyrics, as well as live recordings of sessions the band had up until April of 2017 - a month prior to the frontman's death. As for her claim that Cornell made the seven recordings at his studio in Florida in 2017, the band states that not only do numerous files "significantly predate 2017", but that Cornell recorded much of his material not in Florida, but in Seattle and New York City and while touring.

Though less legally consequential than some of the other issues, the Soundgarden motion also attempts to refute Vicky's claim that the band was "uncaring following Cornell's death" and includes a detailed breakdown of how the band learned of the singer's death. "The overwhelming number of relevant events occurred in Washington", their motion reads.

As well as holding a private vigil in Columbus, cancelling Soundgarden's US tour and giving eulogies at Chris' memorial service, the motion adds that, "the Surviving Band Members have offered consistent support to Cornell's widow, Vicky Cornell (then Vicky Karayiannis), and Cornell's three children". Cornell stayed behind in his hotel in Detroit, Mich. when he took his life.

After learning the news that he passed away, the band "organized a vigil in a conference room at their Columbus hotel, where they were accompanied by their crew, assistants and friends who hugged, wept and attempted to console each other for many hours".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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