Vicky Cornell Sues Soundgarden Over 'Absurd' Buyout Offer

Chris Cornell's widow and band members disagree about whether the issue is money or legacy
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2021 5:15 PM CST
Vicky Cornell Sues Soundgarden Over 'Absurd' Buyout Offer
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs in 2013 at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio.   (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP, File)

Soundgarden has been sued over its proposed buyout of its late frontman, Chris Cornell—an offer his widow called "an infinitesimal fraction of the true worth of Chris' interest" in the band. Vicky Cornell said the offer amounted to less than $300,000, Courthouse News reports. "Before making their absurd offer, Soundgarden had previously received an independent third-party offer from a leading music investor for multi-millions more," the filing says. Cornell said the surviving members—Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepard—turned down her offer of $4 million each. She raised that to $7 million, which also was rejected. Cornell's lawyer said they rejected those offers "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)." Cornell died in 2017.

A representative for the other three band members said they've tried to settle the matter with Cornell, per Variety. "This dispute has never been about money for the band," the statement said. "This is their life's work and their legacy." Cornell also sued the others in 2019 over royalties she said she was owed. Now she wants Soundgarden's assets, and her late husband's interest, to be professionally valued, including consideration of future tours and merchandising. She said the others haven't provided information about the value of their partnership. A good-faith evaluation should estimate the money to be made from future "nostalgia-fueled projects that follow the passing of rock and roll icons," the suit says, such as "posthumous concert appearances by a hologram of Chris" and artificial intelligence efforts that could help produce new hits by Soundgarden with Cornell vocals. (More Chris Cornell stories.)

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