Soundgarden Address Vicky Cornell Royalties Lawsuit, Widow Responds
This past December, Vicky Cornell filed a lawsuit against the surviving members of Soundgarden — Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd — and the band's business manager Rit Venerus. The case stated that the band had been "withholding hundreds of thousand of dollars in royalties” from the Cornell family because they wanted the rights to seven unreleased songs that were found in Cornell's possession after he passed away, which Vicky claimed to belong solely to her late husband.
Now, according to documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Soundgarden have refuted her claims, arguing that the material found was not Cornell's solo work but was for the band, which they had been working on as early as 2015. 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.
They also deny withholding any money from the widow and her family, emphasizing that they aren't being paid at all at this time until "the Partnership, by vote of the Remaining Partners, formally elects to make such a distribution."
“We don’t have possession of our own creative work,” Soundgarden said in a statement.
Outside of the declarations made within the lawsuit, Soundgarden question Vicky's decision to file it in the state of Florida, when the majority of the band's ties are to Seattle, Wash. "The overwhelming number of relevant events occurred in Washington," their motion reads. "Defendants, most witnesses, and pertinent evidence are located in Washington.”
Finally, Soundgarden note Vicky's comment that the band were "uncaring following Cornell’s death," adding that they only discovered Cornell had died through a post on Facebook while they were on their way to Columbus, Ohio that night. 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.”
Read Soundgarden's full response to Vicky Cornell below.
UPDATE: Marty Singer, attorney for Vicky Cornell and the estate of Chris Cornell, has provided a statement following Soundgarden's motion.
“We obviously disagree with the band’s blatant mischaracterization of events, and stand by the truthful facts set forth in our complaint. It is disappointing that Chris’ former band members have now sought to taint his legacy by making numerous false allegations, and that they continue to withhold substantial monies from his widow and minor children (despite using those same funds to pay for their own legal fees). The issue in this case is not who wrote the songs but rather who owns the specific recordings made solely by Chris while he resided in Florida. We are very confident that the Court will vindicate the rights of Chris’ Estate, and that the case will properly remain in Florida, where Chris resided and recorded the songs that are now the lawful property of his Estate.”
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