Chris Cornell's Widow Sues Soundgarden, Claiming Thousands Owed in Unpaid Royalties

Chris Cornell's widow has sued Soundgarden over royalty payments.
Chris Cornell and his wife, Vicky, in 2011. Getty

The widow of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell has sued the band, claiming they withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties to "strong-arm" her into giving them unreleased recordings by her late husband.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Florida, alleges band members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, Hunter Benedict Shepherd and business manager Rit Venerus "shamelessly conspired to wrongfully withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars indisputably owed to Chris' widow and minor children in an unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris' Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away."

Cornell took his own life in 2017 at the age of 52.

According to the suit, he made seven recordings at his Florida studio that same year, and there was not "any explicit agreement" the music was intended for the band. Vicky Cornell says she agreed to share the songs with Soundgarden for a new album, as long as the band used her husband's "trusted producer" and kept her informed about marketing strategies.

But band members didn't commit to that producer, the suit claims, and refused "any type of approval process" about how the album would be marketed.

None of the defendants named in the suit have commented publicly. But a letter included in the complaint, written by a Soundgarden attorney, says the band had been working with Chris Cornell "in a collaborative effort" and the music they created was the property of the band. The letter also listed the songs in question, noting three were co-written by Cameron, while Thayil and Shepherd were co-writers on one song each.

The legal action illuminated hard feelings that have developed between the band and Vicky Cornell since her husband's death. She alleges band members failed to provide emotional support to her and her children since Cornell's passing. In an Instagram post, wrote of feeling betrayed and abandoned.

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