According to TMZ , Chris Cornell 's widow has sued the surviving members of SOUNDGARDEN over royalties and the rights to unreleased recordings.
In the lawsuit, Vicky Cornell claims the musicians are withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties owed to her and Chris 's minor children.
She calls the move an "unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris ' Estate into turning over certain audio recordings created by Chris before he passed away."
Vicky claims the seven unreleased songs were "solely authored by Chris ; contain Chris ' own vocal tracks; and were bequeathed to Chris ' Estate" for the benefit of her and their kids.
Vicky says that she has offered to share the recordings with SOUNDGARDEN , so they can be released in a way that respects Chris 's wishes — including having his producer involved — but that the band refused. She also accuses SOUNDGARDEN guitarist Kim Thayil of putting her family in harm's way by making intentionally misleading comments to SOUNDGARDEN 's "loyal, rabid fan base" and suggesting that she is the main obstacle to the band putting out another album.
However, SOUNDGARDEN is claiming Chris and the other members had been "working on the files in a collaborative effort." In a letter to Vicky , they say: "The entire band was feeling very positive about their rekindled artistic energy and creativity" before Cornell died.
The letter also lists various members as co-songwriters along with Chris on five of the seven disputed recordings.
According to Rolling Stone , a letter from an attorney on behalf of SOUNDGARDEN included in the suit claims Cornell "had been working on the files in a collaborative effort with the other members of SOUNDGARDEN , and the entire band was feeling very positive about their rekindled artistic energy and creative." The band claims that "any music content (instrumental and/or vocals, demos or rough recordings) stored on the hard drive by any or all members of SOUNDGARDEN (including any recordings containing only the performances of Chris Cornell intended for SOUNDGARDEN ) constitutes SOUNDGARDEN partnership property."
For her part, Vicky Cornell 's suit alleges that SOUNDGARDEN "has not produced any partnership documents, much less any documentation signed by Chris , supporting their conclusory claims of ownership." Furthermore, it notes that "there is no evidence that the [unreleased recordings]… were ever intended to be anything but Chris ' sole and exclusive property."
Vicky has since posted a statement on Instagram , in which she wrote: "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."
Last month, Thayil told the satellite radio program "Trunk Nation" that it was "entirely possible" that a new SOUNDGARDEN album featuring the final recordings by Chris Cornell could see the light of day. "We definitely have another record in us," he said. "Stuff that's written, stuff that's demoed and recorded — certainly. All it would need is to take the audio files that are available... We can get the producers we want to make it sound like a SOUNDGARDEN record."
SOUNDGARDEN was working on new music before Cornell 's death in May 2017, and the singer had laid down some vocal tracks. Asked if there were any obstacles to completing the LP, Thayil said: "There shouldn't be... other than the fact that we don't have those files." He continued, "I think that will happen. It would be ridiculous if it didn't. But these are difficult things — partnerships and property."
Thayil did rule out the possibility of SOUNDGARDEN touring without Cornell , saying: "I do not see, given the commitments that other band members have, given our sentiments and love for Chris , I do not see us reconfiguring a tour or anything, as other bands have done in the past, without him."
In a separate interview with Music Radar , Thayil was asked what would it take for him, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd to get access to the tapes of what was supposed to become SOUNDGARDEN 's next album. "We don't know," he replied. "We've asked nicely, we've suggested that this will benefit all parties, if the band could just have these files, and we could finish the songs we were working on. But there seems to be some confusion amongst various parties as to what that would entail and how that works, and who that would benefit."
Cornell was pronounced dead on May 18, 2017 after being found unresponsive in his Detroit hotel room. SOUNDGARDEN had played a show earlier that evening. The 52-year-old had sedatives and an anxiety drug in his system, but died as a result of hanging himself.
The three remaining members of SOUNDGARDEN , along with METALLICA , FOO FIGHTERS and members of AUDIOSLAVE , performed together for the first time since Cornell 's death at a benefit concert honoring the singer on January 16 at the Forum in Los Angeles.
SOUNDGARDEN is among the nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 's class of 2020. The top vote-getters will be announced in January and inducted May 2, 2020 at a ceremony at Cleveland's Public Hall.