Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, has died at 52.

Mr. Cornell died Wednesday night in Detroit, said his representative, Brian Bumbery, in a statement that called the death “sudden and unexpected” and that said the singer’s family would be “working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.”

Dontae Freeman, a spokesman for the Detroit Police Department, said in an interview that at about midnight officers responded at the MGM Grand casino to an apparent suicide of a white man, born July 20th, 1964, who was pronounced dead on the scene. He would not confirm the victim’s name; Mr. Cornell’s date of birth is July 20th, 1964. Mr. Freeman said that the victim’s wife called a family friend to check on the victim; the family friend forced his way into the room and found the individual unresponsive on the bathroom floor.

The victim was found with a band around his neck, Mr. Freeman said. He said that the police were not confirming that the victim died of a suicide, though the preliminary determination was an “apparent suicide.” He said that more details would be released in a statement later Thursday.

The group played at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday night, and it had been scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday at the Rock on the Range festival.

Mr. Cornell appeared to be active on social media in the hours before his death. A post on his Twitter account on Wednesday announced that the group had arrived in Detroit, and a clip of the group’s 2012 release By Crooked Steps was posted to his official Facebook page hours before his death.

Mr. Cornell had admitted in interviews to struggling with drug use throughout his life. In a 1994 Rolling Stone article, he described himself as a “daily drug user at 13,” who had quit by the time he turned 14.

Cornell was born in 1964 in Seattle and helped form Soundgarden 20 years later. Sub Pop, then a fledgling record label, released the group’s first single, Hunted Down, in 1987, as well as two subsequent EPs. The group’s debut album, Ultramega OK, came a year later.

Badmotorfinger,” released in 1991, benefited from the swell of attention that was beginning to surround the Seattle scene, where Soundgarden, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, were playing a high-octane, high-angst brand of rock n’ roll. Soundgarden’s musical journeys tended toward the knotty and dark, plunging into off-kilter meters and punctuated by Mr. Cornell’s voice, which could quickly shift from a soulful howl to a gritty growl.

Three of Soundgarden’s studio albums have been certified platinum, including Superunknown, from 1994, which featured Black Hole Sun, Fell on Black Days, Spoonman and My Wave.

The singer released five solo albums during and after his time with Soundgarden, starting with the 1999 LP Euphoria Morning. His 2007 album Carry On featured an acoustic cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean that served as the inspiration for a well-received version of the song on American Idol. He contributed the song Seasons to the soundtrack of Singles, Cameron Crowe’s love letter to the Seattle music scene, and performed alongside other members of Soundgarden in the film.

source: New York Times

13 Responses

  1. Cobain, Staley and now Cornell…an era of music gone. I was never a grunge fan, but totally respected their talents, especially Cornell since his career was so expansive. Another sad day in music.

    1. You forgot Scott Weiland, whom I ❤️ed, as STP was my favorite, of all of the bands of that era.

      Despite owning albums from Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I, like you, was never really a fan of grunge. Additionally, I agree with you about their talent, especially Cornell’s. He had an amazing voice, and his song, Seasons, from the Singles soundtrack, is one of my all time favorites.

      I think Chris always struggled with the fact that Andrew Wood, as well as Layne Stayley, died of drug overdoses and he managed to survive, despite abusing the same substances. I recall reading an interview where he said he struggled with survivor’s guilt as to why he was able to live, and they did not. Perhaps, this was a struggle he could never reconcile? All in all, it is tragedy.

      “I never wanted
      To write these words down for you
      With the pages of phrases
      Of things we’ll never do
      So I blow out the candle, and
      I put you to bed
      Since you can’´t say to me
      Now how the dogs broke your bone
      There´s just one thing left to be said
      Say hello to heaven”


  2. I’m pretty numb, and have been since 5:51 Thursday morning when I heard on the radio about Chris. About a week ago I broke out Louder Than Love because I was way overdue to really get to know Soundgarden. I only have that and Superunknown, and Temple Of The Dog. And being the metalhead I am, for the most part, ignored the grunge scene (all grunge is basically a derivative of punk and doom, emphasis on the doom). It wasn’t till around 2000-01 that I (opened my mind), to Alice In Chains in particular. Layne and Jerry’s haunting lyrics and melodies sucked me in, and from there I was hooked on their sound, heavy, but so melodic and dark. Suddenly, the whole grunge thing became just a label. I was like, wtf, this music kicks ass. But the rest of the “scene” didn’t take hold of me. Having said that, I always dug the “sound” of Soundgarden, in very much the same vain as AIC, dark doomy lyrics, heavy, yet melodic riffs and vocals. I had about six days of getting to know Chris’ brilliance (as well as his message) while he was alive, now I have the rest of my life to decipher, why. But there’s no answer (depression sucks (the life out of you) eventually!)

  3. And STP. The only band I was in, we did Wicked Garden. Now five of Seattle’s voices have been silenced. I posted something similar to my last post when Weiland died.

    1. Greg,

      Scott Weiland was from California, as is drummer Eric Kretz, and the DeLeo brothers, are originally from New Jersey. Stone Temple Pilots considered themselves a Californian band. So technically, they had no connection to Seattle, nor the other bands from that area.

      However, some of their material from their first two CD’s, Core and Purple, could be cited as examples of the “grunge” sound, which seems to have emanated from the Pacific North West.


  4. Not a big grunge fan but Soundgraden& Alice in Chains I did like. Now left with Vedder my least favoret vocalist. What drugs do even when ur off em the after effects are long lasting. Only he can tell what was going through is mind. Well I guess we should get a comment from Gene Simmons real soon.
    Well rest in peace Chris

  5. Thanks Dana for the correction. After I posted that last message I thought I may be wrong about STP being from Seattle. Their sound had that similar “grungy” feel, and they were pretty much lumped into that whole scene, so I kind of assumed they were from Seattle.

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