Surviving Soundgarden Members Claim They Learned About Chris Cornell’s Death on Facebook

  • Axl Rosenberg

The past decade has seen a disturbing trend of musicians finding out they’ve been fired from their band via text message or online reports… but as bad as that shit is, it can’t hold a candle to this.

You may recall that there is an ongoing lawsuit between Chris Cornell’s widow, Vicky, and the surviving members of Soundgarden — guitarist Kim Thayil, drummer Matt Cameron, and bassist Ben Shepherd — over ownership of Chris’ final recordings. The short version of the lawsuit is this: the band says the recordings belong to them for use on a final Soundgarden album, because Cornell wasn’t the sole author of the new songs. Vicky, meanwhile, says those songs were “solely authored by Chris,” and that the recordings therefore belong to Chris’ estate (i.e., her). She also alleges that the band has been “withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties owed to her and Chris’ minor children” in an “unlawful attempt to strong-arm Chris’ Estate into turning over” those recordings.

Now, in a new legal filing from Soundgarden, the band makes the unsettling claim that they learned about their iconic frontman’s suicide via Facebook:

 “On May 17, [Cornell] flew to Detroit, Michigan to join other Band Members for a Soundgarden concert that night at the Fox Theatre. Following the concert — as was customary — Thayil, Cameron, and Shepherd made the late night trip in the Band’s tour buses to their next concert destination in Columbus, Ohio, where the Band had a concert on May 19. Cornell stayed behind at a Detroit hotel with the plan to fly on to Columbus, as was his normal practice because Cornell was unable to sleep on buses. As their buses were headed to Columbus in the early morning of May 18, the Surviving Band Members learned that Cornell had been found dead in his hotel room in Detroit after midnight (tragically, Cameron first saw a ‘RIP: Chris Cornell’ item on his Facebook page, called Thayil who was on the other bus, who then woke Shepherd, and they and their crew frantically searched news, social media and called friends and family, until they received the awful confirmation from their tour manager).

“Thayil, Cameron and Shepherd were utterly devastated to lose their beloved friend, brother, and comrade, and were in a state of shock. As they pulled their buses to the roadside, embraced each other, and struggled with what to do next, their tour manager advised them not to go back to Detroit as it would be swimming with police, press, and other media, and there was nothing positive that could be achieved. They also had a throng of highly-distraught crew and tour team members already in or headed to Columbus who needed support. So they organized a vigil in a conference room at their Columbus hotel, where they were accompanied by their crew, assistants and friends who hugged, wept and attempted to console each other for many hours.”

If that doesn’t define “fucked up,” nothing does… although I’m not 100% clear how this might have been Vicky’s fault, or why it’s information anyone felt was pertinent to this lawsuit.

In any case, in a statement released to TMZ, Vicky’s attorney, Marty Singer calls the accusations “false.” He also seems to make a change to the initial argument that Chris Cornell was the sole author of these unreleased songs:

“The issue in this case is not who wrote the songs but rather who owns the specific recordings made solely by Chris while he resided in Florida. We are very confident that the Court will vindicate the rights of Chris’ Estate, and that the case will properly remain in Florida, where Chris resided and recorded the songs that are now the lawful property of his Estate.”

I have no idea who is actually in the wrong here… but I do know this is a damn shame. Never mind that the fans are being robbed of hearing Cornell’s final recordings; I can’t imagine the dude would have wanted his wife and his bandmates to be at odds like this. Hopefully some resolution that’s satisfactory to both parties can reached.

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