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Soundgarden, Chris Cornell’s wife reach settlement over band royalties

News of the settlement comes after three years of litigation between Soundgarden and Chris Cornell’s widow, who claimed the 90s grunge band and its business manager withheld royalties to force her to turn over Cornell’s unreleased songs.

(CN) — A new Soundgarden album may be on its way, according to the band and its late front man's widow, Vicky Cornell, who took to social media Monday to announce a settlement over the ownership of Chris Cornell’s unreleased recordings.

“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 announcement posted on Chris Cornell’s and Soundgarden’s Twitter said. Court documents involving the settlement, however, have yet to hit the court docket.

“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 parties continued. “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 surprise announcement comes a month after a federal judge in Seattle considered dismissing Vicky Cornell’s claims over Soundgarden royalties, which involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties and a fight over her late husband’s unreleased songs.

Chris Cornell died by suicide in 2017.

In 2019, Vicky Cornell filed a federal lawsuit against Soundgarden in Florida, claiming her late husband's bandmates withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars in song royalties from her and her children to force her to release seven unreleased recordings her husband created. She claims Chris Cornell alone created the recordings and are therefore the property of his estate. The band claims the recordings were made specifically for a new Soundgarden album and therefore belong to them.

In 2021, Vicky Cornell sued again in Seattle federal court, claiming the band tried to buy her out of her stake in the band for an absurdly low sum. She also claimed Soundgarden used the royalty money her husband’s estate was owed to pay its legal fees.

Both lawsuits were consolidated in April 2021, but not before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Peterson issued a report and recommendation suggesting the federal court grant Soundgarden’s motion to dismiss without leave to amend.

Peterson found that Vicky Cornell hadn't sufficiently shown how any royalties that would have gone to her were misused and that her evidence — emails between her and the band's business manager and former attorney — were “unpersuasive” since they were “statements from non-partners about their understanding or position regarding potential payments to plaintiffs.”

Peterson also found that Vicky Cornell did not adequately show how much money was withheld and transferred to pay for the band’s legal fees.

In March 2023, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik heard arguments from Vicky Cornell’s lawyers asking him to reconsider Peterson’s report. However, Soundgarden’s lawyers argued Lasnik should decide who owns the recordings Chris Cornell made before his death, calling Vicky Cornell's withholding of the recordings “economic coercion” and heartbreaking to the band and their fans. The band's attorney also noted that under Florida’s probate law, where Cornell lived at the time of his death, the recordings do not belong to his estate.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources.

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