It’s been two and a half years since Chris Cornell died, but in that time his former band, Soundgarden, has allegedly not been treating his widow well. So unwell, in fact, that Vicky Cornell is taking legal action against the band.
According to TMZ, the band’s remaining members — Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron — have withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties that are meant for Vicky and her two children with Chris. In the legal papers, Vicky accuses them of making an “unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris’ estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away.” TMZ reported there are seven tracks that were “solely authored by Chris; contain Chris’ own vocal tracks; and were bequeathed to Chris’ estate” but because Vicky isn’t handing them over, she claims they’re playing dirty and not paying out the royalties. Vicky has allegedly offered to share the recordings with Soundgarden so the songs can be released “in a way that respects Chris’ wishes — including having his producer involved” but she says the band shut her down.
Cornell’s widow is also accusing Thayil of “putting her family in harm’s way by suggesting she’s the main obstacle to Soundgarden putting out another album,” which is misleading the band’s “loyal, rabid fan base.”
Vicky took to Instagram to address the lawsuit, writing, “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.” She added that she won’t be “bullied or shamed into silence,” nor will she “accept something so wrong, so lacking in compassion or decency.” As far as she’s concerned, this is about her children’s future and she’s not going down without a fight.
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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 🖤
Soundgarden, on the other hand, claims the songs were “a collaborative effort,” and reportedly wrote in a letter to Vicky that “the entire band was feeling very positive about their rekindled artistic energy and creativity” before Cornell died. And on five of those seven recordings, they list various members as co-songwriters — but Vicky isn’t biting. She, through her attorneys Marty Singer and James Sammataro, is requesting the judge declare Chris’ estate the sole owner of those seven songs and wants them to pony up the unpaid royalties.
Just like Cornell once said, “Rock is something that you fight for. It’s a right and privilege.” Only time — and a judge — will tell who’ll win this battle.
Cornell, who was also the lead vocalist for Audioslave, died by suicide in May 2017. He was 52.