According to court documents, Vicky claims that the surviving members — Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd — offered her a “villainously low figure” of $300,000 for Chris’ stake. In actuality, she says the band’s master recordings alone are worth at least $16 million — an offer for which Soundgarden recently received from an outside music inventor, according to Vicky.
Vicky goes on to claim that she made two counter offers to the band offering to purchase the masters herself, one for $12 million (to be split evenly between the three surviving members), and a second offer for $21 million. After both offers were rejected, Vicky says she had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the band seeking a judicial determination of the buyout price.
Via Pitchfork, Vicky’s lawsuit claims that a good faith valuation would “account for the significant revenues to be earned from the band’s merchandise sales and account for the lucrative, nostalgia-fueled projects that follow the passing of rock and roll icons—e.g., future tours using a replacement lead singer (as Queen did by substituting Adam Lambert for Freddie Mercury); posthumous concert appearances by a hologram of Chris (as Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley have profitably performed); and deep-fake renditions of Chris’ vocals drawn from extant recordings by artificial intelligence thatcould mint brand new Soundgarden hits.”
Since news of the lawsuit broke late last week, both Vicky and Soundgarden have issued statements addressing the matter.
Vicky Cornell’s attorney Marty Singer said:
In their own statement, Soundgarden said:
“The buyout offer that was demanded by the Estate has been grossly mischaracterized and we are confident that clarity will come out in court. 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.”
In December of 2019, Vicky initially sued the members of Soundgarden, accusing them of falsely claiming ownership of seven unreleased songs and withholding royalties from her. Soundgarden’s surviving members subsequently filed a countersuit.