The surviving members of Soundgarden are countersuing Chris Cornell's widow, Vicky, claiming she used funds from a 2019 benefit concert for her own "personal purposes." They claim she has taken over the band's social media accounts without their permission. Additionally, they have formally responded to her claims over the rights to unreleased songs they claim were intended for the next Soundgarden album.
In December, Vicky sued the band over unpaid royalties and the rights to Chris' final recordings, seven tracks in total. Vicky argues that these tracks, which are Chris' final recordings were "solely authored by Chris; contain Chris' own vocal tracks; and were bequeathed to Chris' Estate" for the benefit of Chris' wife and kids.
Vicky has noted in the documents the conditions with which she was willing to share the recordings. Vicky claims she wanted to respect Chris' wishes and Chris' producer involved, something the band was not interested in.
Rolling Stone published the countersuit filed yesterday, May 7th, by Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron, Kim Thayil, and Ben Shepherd. They claim the band entered an "oral agreement" with Vicky Cornell to perform for free during a Chris Cornell tribute concert in 2019 with the intent of the funds going to the The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation. The surviving members noted that “recipient(s) of the revenue” from 2019 Chris Cornell tribute benefit concert “have not been identified,” claiming that the event likely drew millions of dollars, because the band hadn't played together since Cornell's suicide.
The concert “is believed to have raised many millions of dollars,” the suit claims, but instead of the revenue being used for charitable purposes per their verbal agreement with Vicky Cornell, the suit alleges “fraudulent inducement,” claiming that “Vicky Cornell did not have the intention of using some or all of the revenue from the Cornell Concert for charitable purposes, but rather for personal purposes for herself and her family.” It further claims that she knew her charitable “representation was false, or exhibited recklessness and negligence as to its truth or falsity, for the purpose and intent of inducing Soundgarden into agreeing to perform at the Cornell Concert without compensation.” It claims Soundgarden “suffered damages” and “reputational harm” as a result.
Vicky Cornell's lawyer, Marty Singer called the allegations “salacious, scurrilous, and vicious.” He claims the band received $78,000 to perform at the event. "As Chris’ former band members are well aware, every single penny of the proceeds generated by the concert were properly allocated and accounted for and their statements are not only false and defamatory but demonstrate the depths to which Chris’ former bandmates are willing to sink to tarnish his legacy."
The band also claims she has taken over social media accounts, which the band never gave her permission to do, and has posted content where she identified herself as "Soundgarden," claiming some of the posts were "intended to denigrate" the band members. She's also being accused of removing fan comments.
Her lawyer added “Their transparently desperate counterclaims … do not change the fact that they are the ones who have improperly asserted ownership of vocal recordings that were created solely by Chris and that they are the ones who have unlawfully withheld substantial sums of money from Chris’ widow and children.”
The band address those claims by outright denying them, “The Complaint is an offensive recitation of false allegations and accusations. Soundgarden categorically denies every material contention lobbed by Vicky Cornell, who filed her Complaint — rashly and without good cause — with the true purpose of extorting Soundgarden into conceding rights to which she is not legally entitled, and of coercing Soundgarden to prematurely distribute Soundgarden funds to her.”
It further adds, “This legal action by Vicky Cornell is lamentable, preventable, and spurious.” The band is seeking “compensatory and general damages in an amount to be proven at trial,” along with injunctions and declarations related to copyright and other ownership claims, punitive and exemplary damages, and other relief deemed by the court.