Soundgarden has released a statement in response to a lawsuit filed by late frontman Chris Cornell‘s widow, Vicky Cornell, who claims the surviving members made a “lowball” offer for her financial interest in the iconic rock band.
In the 11-page complaint, filed Tuesday (Feb. 16) in the U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, Vicky Cornell claims that remaining Soundgarden members — Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Hunter Shepherd — have have severely undervalued her share of the group, offering her “the villainously low figure of less than $300,000.” She serves as the personal representative of her late husband’s estate.
Vicky Cornell’s suit asks the court to place a value on her interest in the band.
Soundgarden’s surviving members say in their latest statement that the “buyout offer that was demanded by the estate has been grossly mischaracterized and we are confident that clarity will come out in court.”
Chris Cornell died in 2017 at the age of 52 while on tour with Soundgarden in Detroit, leaving his property — including his intellectual and personal property rights — to Vicky Cornell for the benefit of their two minor children.
In her complaint, Vicky Cornell said she asked the band make a buyout offer for her husband’s interest in Soundgarden last year. The group offered her $300,000 despite, she says, receiving a $16 million offer from another investor for the act’s master recordings. In response, Vicky Cornell says she counter-offered $12 million for the band’s collective interests, equaling $4 million per surviving member, which they summarily denied in December. She later offered them $21 million for the band’s interests, she says, and that offer was also rejected.
The four-member rock group never had a written partnership agreement, according to court papers.
“All offers to buy out our interests have been unsolicited and rejected outright,” Soundgarden said in their statement. The band added that they also haven’t had access to their social media accounts, which has resulted in “misleading and confusing our fans.”
The band has since started new Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts under the name Nude Dragons — an anagram for Soundgarden.
In a statement released on Feb. 17, a Soundgarden representative said “the band’s members have continued to try to settle all disputes with the Cornell Estate and in their several attempts to settle, the band members have elected to offer multiple times more than the amount calculated by (music industry valuation expert Gary) Cohen. This dispute has never been about money for the band. This is their life’s work and their legacy.”
However, Vicky Cornell’s lawyer Marty Singer said in a statement that “the band’s contention that this dispute is somehow not about the money for them is absurd and hypocritical.”
Singer claimed Soundgarden “received a third party offer to buy just a portion of their interests for 16 million dollars, and yet subsequently offered to buy out Chris’ interest for a mere $278,000. And then Vicky offered $21 million for their shares, which they turned down — not because they wanted to preserve their life’s work but because they know that they will make even more off … the music that Chris wrote and the legacy that he created.”
Soundgarden’s surviving members concluded their most recent statement by hinting at the possibility of new music in the future.
“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,” the group wrote.
Billboard has reached out to Vicky Cornell’s reps for comment.