Soundgarden demand Vicky Cornell hand over passwords to band’s social media accounts and official website

Matt Cameron, Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden attend the Los Angeles premiere of "Marvel's Avengers" at the El Capitan Theatre on April 11, 2012 in Hollywood, California
(Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

In the ongoing legal battle between the surviving members of Soundgarden and Vicky Cornell, widow of late frontman Chris Cornell, the band members have now accused Cornell of locking them out of the official Soundgarden social media accounts and website.

Soundgarden electric guitar player Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron have asked a judge to order Cornell to relinquish the passwords.

On March 25, Thayil, Cameron, Shepherd and their business manager Rit Venerus filed papers in Washington state U.S. District Court accusing Cornell of locking them out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, Top Spin and Pinterest accounts, as well as Soundgarden's official website, and changing all the passwords.

In addition to the request to hand over the passwords, the band has also asked that if this doesn’t happen, a posting be put up on the appropriate websites stating "Soundgarden has temporarily suspended its official social media accounts due to pending litigation."

The report from Billboard also states that the members claim the accounts are in a “state of neglect," that Cornell is identifying herself as Soundgarden and that she is removing posted comments from fans.

Additionally, there have been no news items added to the band's official website since October 2019 and no new posts to the band's Twitter account since January 2020, and the band’s Facebook “official store” page is non-operational.

Soundgarden's former management company, Patriot Management, reportedly handed over the band's social media account passwords to Cornell in October of 2019, after the band terminated services with the company.

According to the filing, the band says Patriot confirmed in an email in December 2019 that "Vicky [Cornell] has since changed all the social media passwords for the band accounts and will not share them with [Patriot] as she wants the band, and I quote, 'to sue her for them.’"

This is the latest development in a string of disputes between Cornell and Soundgarden. In December 2019, Cornell sued the band, claiming they were withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties which were owed to her and her family. The dispute also involved copyright issues regarding seven audio recordings made by Chris Cornell before his death in May 2017.

Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd countersued in response, calling her complaint an “offensive recitation of false allegations and accusations.”

More recently, we reported that, according to court documents, Soundgarden had received an offer worth $16 million from an unnamed third party seeking to purchase the band's recorded music catalogue. 

Cornell, in turn, alleged that the band offered to purchase her stake – which she inherited from her late husband – for the “villainously low figure of less than $300,000.”

The lawsuit revealed that Cornell had offered the band $21 million for their own shares, which they had turned down. According to Cornell’s lawyer, Marty Singer, this was “not because they wanted to preserve their life’s work but because they know that they will make even more off of future exploitation of the music that Chris wrote and the legacy that he created (which has lined their pockets for years)”.

The remaining Soundgarden members responded to Cornell’s lawsuit, stating that the buyout offer “demanded by the Estate has been grossly mischaracterized and we are confident that clarity will come out in court.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.