Surviving SOUNDGARDEN Members And CHRIS CORNELL's Widow Reach Agreement Regarding Release Of Singer's Final Recordings

April 17, 2023

SOUNDGARDEN and Vicky Cornell, the widow and personal representative of the estate of the band's lead singer Chris Cornell, have announced that they have reached "an amicable out-of-court resolution" regarding the release of recordings made before the vocalist's death in May of 2017.

Earlier today, the following statement was posted to the Cornell and SOUNDGARDEN social media sites: "SOUNDGARDEN and Vicky Cornell, on behalf of the Estate of Chris Cornell, are happy to announce they have reached an amicable out of court resolution. The reconciliation marks a new partnership between the two parties, which will allow SOUNDGARDEN fans around the world to hear the final songs that the band and Chris were working on. The two parties are united and coming together to propel, honor and build upon SOUNDGARDEN's incredible legacy as well as Chris's indelible mark on music history - as one of the greatest songwriters and vocalists of all time."

The resolution comes less than two years after SOUNDGARDEN and Vicky came to a temporary agreement that would transfer the SOUNDGARDEN social media accounts and web site to the band's remaining members, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd and their managers, Red Light Management. This included SOUNDGARDEN's web site, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In March 2021, Thayil, Cameron, Shepherd and their business manager Rit Venerus filed papers in Washington state U.S. District Court claiming that Vicky Cornell had locked them out of their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, Top Spin and Pinterest accounts, as well as SOUNDGARDEN's official web site, and changing all the passwords.

Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd claimed their socials were previously managed by their then-management company Patriot Management. They said they later learned that Patriot had handed over all the login information to Vicky after Patriot was terminated in October 2019.

The band asked a judge to order Vicky Cornell to hand over the passwords or include a final posting stating, "SOUNDGARDEN has temporarily suspended its official social media accounts due to pending litigation."

Cornell was found hanged in his room at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel in May 2017, following a SOUNDGARDEN show at the city's Fox Theatre. His body was found soon after he had spoken with a "slurred" voice to his wife by phone. The death was ruled a suicide.

In December 2019, Vicky filed a lawsuit against the surviving SOUNDGARDEN members, alleging the group owed Cornell's estate hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties and the rights to seven unreleased recordings made before the singer's death. Cornell is credited as a writer on all seven songs, receiving sole credit on two, "Cancer" and "Stone Age Mind". He wrote "Road Less Traveled", "Orphans" and "At Ophians Door" with Matt Cameron; "Ahead Of The Dog" with Kim Thayil; and "Merrmas" with Ben Shepherd.

At the time, Vicky claimed that Chris made seven recordings at his personal studio in Florida in 2017, adding that there was no explicit agreement as to whether the recordings were meant for SOUNDGARDEN, which made Chris the exclusive owner. However, the surviving SOUNDGARDEN members responded by saying that the unreleased recordings were the result of writing and recording sessions going as far back as 2015. They also pointed to public interviews with Chris and Thayil that suggested that SOUNDGARDEN had been working on the material since 2015, and detailed recording sessions up until April 2017, just one month before Chris's death. SOUNDGARDEN also included several text exchanges from Vicky, in which she referred to the unreleased recordings as the "SG files". They also provided a March 2017 e-mail from Vicky which said that Chris was travelling for the "SG record". The band went on to refute Vicky's claim that Chris's recordings took place in his personal studio in Florida in 2017, insisting that most of the actual sound files "significantly predate 2017" and that the recording sessions took place in Seattle and New York while the band was touring.

Responding to Vicky's lawsuit, Thayil, Shepherd and Cameron claimed that they "don't have possession" of their "own creative work," and alleged that "Vicky Cornell has possession of the only existing multi-track recordings of the last SOUNDGARDEN tracks that include Chris Cornell's instrumental parts and vocals. All of the band members jointly worked on these final tracks, Vicky now claims ownership of the final SOUNDGARDEN album."

Thayil, Shepherd and Cameron initially accused Vicky Cornell of misusing funds from the January 2019 "I Am The Highway: A Tribute To Chris Cornell" concert. After being challenged by Cornell's attorneys with the threat of sanctions, SOUNDGARDEN withdrew that portion of its countersuit, while its lawyers wrote at the time that the band believes the claims "remain well-founded."

In February, Vicky Cornell sued the surviving members of SOUNDGARDEN over the buyout price for her stake in the band. In the lawsuit, Vicky Cornell said Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd offered her just $300,000 for Chris's share. This amount, she said, is far lower than the real value of the Chris Cornell estate's interests in SOUNDGARDEN, especially considering the fact that the band got an offer of $16 million from an outside investor for SOUNDGARDEN's masters.

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