Soundgarden responds to Vicky Cornell lawsuit over “villainously low” buyout offer

Ben Shepherd, Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden attend "SiriusXM's Town Hall with Soundgarden" with moderator Taylor Hawkins>> at Electric Lady Studios in New York City
(Image credit: John Lamparski/WireImage)

The legal battle between the surviving members of Soundgarden and Vicky Cornell, widow of late frontman Chris Cornell – continues on.

Last week 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)”.

Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron and bassist Ben Shepherd have now 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.”

They continued, "All offers to buy out our interests have been unsolicited and rejected outright.

"For more than a year, Soundgarden’s social media accounts have been hijacked; misleading and confusing our fans.

"Being a band from Washington State since 1984, we are proud of Soundgarden’s musical legacy, work and career. We look forward to completing the final Soundgarden album."

This is only the latest development in a string of disputes between Vicky 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”.

The band members also claimed Cornell had used funds raised by the I Am The Highway: A Tribute To Chris Cornell benefit concert for “personal purposes for herself and her family”.

Cornell's legal team responded with threats of legal sanctions, calling the band's actions “shameful and objectively frivolous”. The band agreed to voluntarily dismiss the claim regarding the charity concert.

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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.