By Brian Salvatore
Chris Cornell, best known as the lead singer for 1990s alternative rock band Soundgarden, died yesterday at the age of 52. Cornell, just last night, played a show with Soundgarden at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
According to initial reports, Cornell’s wife had called a friend of Cornell’s to check on him in his hotel room and, after breaking down the door, found Cornell unresponsive in the bathroom. Police are treating the death as a possible suicide.
Cornell was one of rock’s most distinctive and powerful voices, with a range and a power that was unmatched in his era. He was widely regarded as one of the best singers in rock for his entire career.
Soundgarden was one of the most successful bands of the Seattle ‘grunge’ era alongside bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains. He was also a part of Temple of the Dog with Soundgarden (and future Pearl Jam) drummer Matt Cameron, as well as future Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Mike McCreedy. Temple of the Dog was a one-off project that honored the memory of Andrew Wood, singer for Seattle band Mother Love Bone, who had died of a drug overdose in 1990. Just last year, Temple of the Dog embarked on their first ever tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their self-titled album.
Soundgarden is best known for their trio of 90s records, Badmotorfinger, Superunknown, and Down on the Upside, which spawned singles like “Rusty Cage,” “Black Hole Sun,” and “Burden in my hand,” all of which still get played on classic rock radio today. The band’s lineup solidified in 1990 when Ben Shepherd joined Cornell, Cameron, and lead guitarist Kim Thayil to form the group that would continue through their 1997 breakup.
The band reunited in 2010, and put out King Animal in 2012, and have been touring with some regularity throughout the decade. They’ve sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.
When Soundgarden initially split in 1997, Cornell began a solo career, releasing Euphoria Mourning in 1999. Two years later, he joined up with former Rage Against the Machine members Brad Wilk, Tim Commerfield, and Tom Morello to form Audioslave. Audioslave released three records between 2002 and 2006 before splitting.
Cornell released four solo albums, including 2009’s Timbaland produced Scream and 2015’s Higher Truth.
Cornell is survived by his wife and three children. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Brian Salvatore lives in New Jersey, and is the senior editor of Multiversity Comics (www.multiversitycomics.com) and a writer/podcaster at Amazin' Avenue (www.amazinavenue.com). When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, your Beatles hot takes, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).