Chris Cornell may not be as recognizable as Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, but none-the-less, the front man of Seattle band Soundgarden was a major voice in the Grunge music scene that came out of the Emerald City in the 1990s. Cornell, 52, died Wednesday night while on tour in Detroit.
Along with Cobain’s Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden was at the front of the new, high-angst, high-octane brand of rock and roll dubbed Grunge. While Soundgarden got their start with label Sub Pop in the late 80s, 1994s studio album Superunknown made the band a household name. Black Hole Sun and Spoonman featured Chris Cornell’s gritty growl of a voice that easily transitioned to a soulful howl.
Detroit police, who initially confirmed that a white male, born on July 20, 1964, was found dead of an apparent suicide in a room at Detroit’s MGM Grand casino hotel. Detroit Police Department spokesman Dontae Freeman stated that the victims wife called a friend of the family who was with him to check his room. This friend broke into his room to find the man on the floor with a band around his neck, according to The Seattle Times. Later on Thursday, a Detroit medical examiner ruled Cornell’s death as a suicide.
Besides being the lead vocalist for Soundgarden, Chris Cornell added his unique sound to a one-shot album tribute to a good friend. Cornell was friends and roommates with Andrew Wood, lead singer of Mother Love Bone, early in the Soundgarden singers career. The talented Wood struggled with heroin and cocaine addictions, and eventually died at the age of 24. This devastated Cornell, but out of the devastation, life was created. Life called Temple of the Dog
With Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Mother Love Bone, Cornell and Matt Cameron, also from Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog was born to pay tribute to the musical talent of the late Andrew Wood. They released one album, a cult classic to Seattle music fans, and that was it. Many felt that while Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and other Seattle area bands were the life blood of Grunge, Temple of the Dog was the Seattle Music scene at its finest. And it only lasted for a short time, until 25 years later when the band got back together for a brief tour.
Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, but reunited in 2010. The group had finished a concert at Detroit’s Fox Theater on Wednesday, and nothing pointed to Chris Cornell taking his own life. The band was scheduled to play Friday at the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. He was active on social media prior to his death Wednesday night. The news of his death has really come as a shock to the music world.
Cornell is survived by his wife Vicky, daughter Toni, son Christopher, and daughter Lillian Jean from his first marriage. Along with Vicky, Chris Cornell was heavily involved in philanthropy. He and his wife started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, supporting children facing hard challenges, like homelessness, abuse, poverty, and neglect.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy Facebook/Chris Cornell