MIAMI (CN) – Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s widow sued the musician’s former bandmates Monday, claiming they wrongfully withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties from the deceased grunge icon’s unreleased songs.
Vicky Cornell’s complaint filed in federal court in Florida references lyrics her late husband wrote and sang for the band in 2009: “Everybody out for my blood, everybody want my percent … They just want to take what is mine, how much more can they get.”
Before his death in 2017, Cornell penned these words about his former bandmates, according to his estate.
“Ten years later, and after Chris’ untimely passing, these lyrics hauntingly resonate as his former bandmates, once again, have attempted to take what is his – or, more aptly, to steal from his widow and minor children,” states the complaint filed by attorney James G. Sammataro of Pryor Cashman.
The suit names Soundgarden members Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Hunter Benedict Shepherd as defendants along with the band’s manager, Rit Venerus, and Cal Financial Group, Inc.
The rockstar’s widow accuses the group of wrongfully taking control of seven unreleased recordings her husband created.
She claims they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in song royalties that are “indisputably owed to Chris’ widow and minor children,” because the songs in question feature Cornell’s own vocal tracks and were allegedly bequeathed to his estate after passing.
According to the complaint, Vicky had once offered to share those sound recordings with the band, provided that they were released in a way that would respect her late husband’s legacy and wishes – including his wish to have his trusted producer involved in the release and marketing process.
The band refused to meet those demands and claimed that Cornell’s recordings are the sole property of their purported partnership, according to the complaint.
Vicky Cornell, through her attorneys, said the notion that Soundgarden is entitled to dictate the future of Cornell’s unreleased tracks is “absurd.”
She said the defendants resorted to ”strong-arm tactics” by withholding the royalties that support the musician’s three surviving children.
“Worse, Chris’ former band members menaced Chris’ family with false media statements intended to rile the cyber stalkers who have been making vile online accusations and the real-life stalker, who was recently released from Federal prison after threatening Vicky’s life,” the complaint continues.
Attorneys for the estate wrote that bandmates have broadcast public misinformation “without regard for intensifying the hateful targeting of Chris’ family, despite knowing that the family already needed FBI protection, and despite Vicky’s pleas that they not make any future statements that would further endanger Chris’ children.”
“I am shocked at how often this occurs,” Cornell wrote in an Instagram post. “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.”
Representatives for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday night.
Chris Cornell died by suicide in 2017. He was 52.