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US judge and Soundgarden fan encourages settlement in ongoing dispute between band and Chris Cornell’s widow

By | Published on Wednesday 8 March 2023


A judge in Seattle overseeing a legal battle between Soundgarden and the widow of their late frontman Chris Cornell urged both parties to seek a settlement yesterday. Mainly because he’s a fan of the band and is worried that the dispute is tarnishing their legacy, as well as delaying the release of new material featuring vocals recorded by Cornell before his death.

At the heart of this legal battle are various recordings Cornell made prior to his death in 2017, and a dispute over who owns said recordings and how they might be released.

Though in a lawsuit filed in 2019, Vicky Cornell also accused the other members of Soundgarden of withholding royalties due to her late husband’s estate and making false statements in a bid to force her hand over the recordings.

A second lawsuit was then filed in 2021 in relation to another dispute over the valuation of Cornell’s share in the band and their business.

The two lawsuits were then consolidated by the courts, with a magistrate judge subsequently publishing an opinion on the dispute which more or less sided with the band, concluding that Cornell had not provided sufficient evidence to back up her allegations.

The ongoing case – and the conclusions of that magistrate judge – were discussed at a session yesterday overseen by judge Robert S Lasnik, a self-declared fan of Soundgarden and the Seattle grunge scene they emerged from.

According to Law360, he told legal reps for both Cornell and the band that the litigation was a “terrible distraction” from the legacy of Soundgarden, adding: “I hope the lawyers will take a look at this and say, ‘Is there really that much dispute here about what should happen and can we give people what they are entitled to and move on?'”

Despite the magistrate judge basically siding with the band, Lasnik also encouraged their lawyers to sympathetically consider Cornell’s position.

“She has her reasons for doing what she’s doing to protect herself and her children”, he said. “You may disagree with those, and the band members may see it in a completely different way, but we have to get past the personal attacks if we want to really try to come to a resolution that provides for the best for her and her children and the best for the band”.

Lawyers on both sides should also consider the band’s fans, he added – including himself, presumably – who just want to hear the tracks Cornell worked on prior to his death. Lasnik then mused: “I am hoping you will heed my observation that this [legal battle] doesn’t do anyone any good in the long run”.

It remains to be seen if the judge’s words can help facilitate any kind of settlement.