Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

Chris Cornell, the powerful and dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, died on Wednesday night in Detroit hours after the band had performed there. He was 52 years old.

The death was a suspended suicide, the Wayne County coroner’s office said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. He said that a full autopsy had not yet been completed.

Cornell’s representative, Brian Bumbery, said in a statement that the death was “sudden and unexpected.”

Soundgarden played at Detroit’s Fox Theater on Wednesday night, and was scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday at the Rock on the Range Festival.

Dontae Freeman, a spokesman for the Detroit Police Department, said in an interview that agents went to the MGM Grand hotel and casino around midnight in response to a call about an apparent suicide of a white man he did not identify. Mr. Freeman said that the man’s date of birth was July 20, 1964, which is Cornell’s.

He added that the man’s wife had called a friend of the family to check the man; The friend forced his way into the man’s room in the casino and found him indifferent on the bathroom floor with a bandage around his neck. He was pronounced dead on the spot.

Mr. Cornell appeared to be active on social networks in the hours before his death. A post on his Twitter account announced that the group had arrived in Detroit, and a clip of the 2012 version of the group “By Crooked Steps” was posted on its official Facebook page.

Mr. Cornell acknowledged in interviews that he had struggled with drug use throughout his life. In a 1994 Rolling Stone article, he described himself as a “daily drug user at 13” he had left by the time he turned 14.

After Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, a breakout that would last for more than a decade, Mr. Cornell returned to using heavy drugs, telling The Guardian in 2009 that he was a “pioneer” in OxyContin opiate abuse and that he had gone To rehabilitation.

Soundgarden’s musical journeys tended toward the gnarled and dark ones, mired in disordered meters and punctuated by Mr. Cornell’s voice, which could quickly pass from a poignant howl to a grunting growl. On stage, Mr. Cornell was a stunning figure, throwing his long hair as he presided over mosh pits by fans beating metal-tinged band riffs.

Mr. Cornell was one of four prominent members of the band – along with Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains – who brought the sound of Seattle to the national stage in the late 80’s and He helped form Soundgarden in Seattle, where he was born around 1984. Sub Pop, then a rookie record label, released the group’s first single, “Hunted Down” in 1987, as well as two subsequent EPs. The band’s debut album, “Ultramega OK,” which came a year later on the SST punk label, was their latest release before they made the leap to a major label.

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

The album “Badmotorfinger”, released in 1991, benefited from a surge of attention that was beginning to surround the Seattle scene, where Soundgarden, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, was playing a high octane, ‘roll.

Three of Soundgarden’s studio albums have been certified platinum, including 1994’s “Superunknown,” which included Grammy-winning songs “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman” as well as “Fell on Black Days” and “My Wave “.

After disbanding, the group — which includes the guitarist Kim Thayil, the bassist Ben Shepherd and the drummer Matt Cameron — reunited in 2010 and has performed regularly since then.

In 2001, after Zack de la Rocha, lead singer of Rage Against the Machine, left the group, Mr. Cornell and members of that band formed Audioslave. The group released three albums before announcing its division in 2007.

In November 2016, Mr. Cornell hit the road for the first time with another supergroup, Temple of the Dog, with a mix of members from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The band, known for its hit “Hunger Strike,” a dramatic duet between Mr. Vedder and Mr. Cornell, had formed about 25 years earlier as a tribute to Andrew Wood, lead singer of Seattle bands Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, who died of a heroin overdose in March 1990.

Cornell told The Times that the group had finally decided to bring their songs to life to honor Wood. He said, “I thought, well, this is something I can do to remind myself and maybe other people who this guy is and he went and kept his story – and, somehow, his life – with us.”

A close friend, Eric Esrailian, whose family regularly took holidays with the Cornell, said Cornell was never the audacious person who appeared on stage. “He liked to take pictures of our children at dinner, just talking to each other,” Esrailian said, adding that “in 10 years of friendship, I have never seen him have more than one Diet Coke.” I had not seen mood swings in the last days or weeks. “We were talking about summer vacation plans in Greece,” he said.

Mr. Esrailian produced the 2017 film “The Promise,” about the Armenian genocide, for which Cornell wrote music and donated the proceeds of all audio downloads to help the refugees. “I wanted his song to be a hymn of hope and perseverance for all,” he said.

Mr. Esrailian told a story about Mr. Cornell who gave him a guitar for his birthday, signed by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. “I’m a fan of Jimmy Page, and Jimmy Page is a fan of Chris Cornell,” he said. “This is the same guy we would eat sushi with and make jokes.”

When Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last month, Mr. Esrailian said he told his friend that he also belonged there: “He said, I do not need it now, because I have so much in front of my.”

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