Chris Cornell (1964-2017)

Having been the frontman of one of Seattle’s most well-known rock bands, frontman of the second band in history to perform live in Cuba, and named as one of the godfathers of the grunge genre, Chris Cornell was a rare, unique, and special act in the rock & roll/grunge scene. In 1984, Cornell had formed the band Soundgarden back in his hometown Seattle with his friend Kim Thayil, who took role as the guitarist, Hiro Yamamoto, who took role as the bassist (but was later replaced by current bassist Ben Shepherd), and Cornell himself taking the roles of drummer and vocalist. It was until 1985 however, that Cornell was replaced by Scott Sundquist on drums, giving Cornell space to focus on vocals. Sundquist was later replaced by the band’s current drummer Matt Cameron.

During the time of Soundgarden, Cornell had formed rock group Temple of the Dog in 1990, as a tribute to his late friend and roommate Andrew Wood, who had passed due to heroin overdose. The band consisted of Cornell (vocals), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), and Matt Cameron on drums. The group released only one studio album, the self titled Temple of the Dog on April 16th, 1991 and were active only until 1992.

After the dismemberment of the band, Cornell resumed working with Soundgarden. Under the label SST Records, Soundgarden managed release their first full-length album titled Ultramaga OK released October 31st, 1989. After the release, the band signed with A&M Records, becoming the first grunge band to be signed to a major record label. Under A&M, Soundgarden released Louder Than Love in 1989, along with Badmotorfinger (1991), Superunknown (1994), and Down On The Upside (1996).

In 1997, Soundgarden split—resulting in Cornell releasing his first solo album Euphoria Morning on September 21st, 1999. After the band’s split and Cornell’s initial solo album release, Cornell formed the band Audioslave alongside the former members of the group Rage Against The Machine, (Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, and Tom Morrello) in 2001. Audioslave released three studio albums in their short life span, the first being their self-titled debut album Audioslave, released November 19th, 2002. The album peaked at number 7 on the Billboard 200, and was later certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) within its first month of release. The second album being Out Of Exile released internationally on May 23rd, 2005, and their final album Revelations released on September 4th, 2006 internationally.

Audioslave was also nominated for “Best Hard Rock Performance” at the 46th Grammy Awards for their song “Like A Stone” from their Audioslave album. The group also got their debut album to be nominated for “Best Rock Album” at the same Grammy Awards show. Audioslave was also the second rock band to perform in Cuba on May 6th, 2005. The band played for free in front of 70,000 people. The event was also recorded and placed a DVD titled Live in Cuba. Cornell, however, left Audioslave in 2007 and progressed as a solo artist for a number of years, releasing three more studio albums: Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), and Higher Truth (2015).

On May 17th, 2017, Chris Cornell was found dead in his hotel room in Detroit after performing with Soundgarden while on tour, at age 52. According to medical examiners, his passing was due to suicide by hanging. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page noted the following on Twitter: “RIP Chris Cornell, Incredibly Talented, Incredibly Young, Incredibly Missed.” Sir Elton John posted, ”Shocked and saddened by the death of @chriscornell. A great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man.” His family members were both shocked and saddened by his sudden and unexpected death. Having been labelled as one of the godfathers of grunge, Chris Cornell made waves with his unique sound on the rock scene while competing with acts such as Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam to name a few. Cornell with his group definitely made an impact which lasted for more than 20 years, and will never forgotten.

Christopher John Boyle (AKA Chris Cornell), aged 52

Birth - July 20th, 1964

Death - May 17th , 2017

Image credit: Paul Lorkowski.