Music News 5.18.17

Soundgarden Frontman Found Dead in Hotel Room Bathroom

Grunge and alternative rock musician Chris Cornell passed away late last night in his hotel room in Detroit following a Soundgarden show at the city’s Fox Theatre. Detroit police are investigating his death as a possible suicide. Cornell was revered for his multi-octave vocal range and his sensitivity for darker, heavier music. He formed Soundgarden in 1984 with bassist Hiro Yamamoto, eventually inviting guitarist Kim Thayil to round out the group. Soundgarden released their debut single “Hunted Down” and the EP Screaming Life in 1987. Cornell’s vocal talent and the group’s affinity for early grunge were the stars of Soundgarden’s 1988 debut full-length Ultramega OK, namely highlighted by the track “Beyond the Wheel.”


In the aftermath of his former roommate Andrew Wood’s fatal heroin overdose, Cornell formed Temple of the Dog with Wood’s former Mother Love Bone bandmates as well as local guitarist Mike McCready and a then unknown Eddie Vedder. Temple of the Dog released their platinum-selling self-titled debut album in 1991, and the group, sans Soundgarden members, reformed as Pearl Jam and released their debut album Ten the same year. Soundgarden, on the other hand, was doing reforming of its own after the exit of Yamaoto, whom they replaced with Ben Shepard.


The group saw their absolute biggest release with 1994’s Superunknown, with tracks like “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” “The Day I Tried to Live,” “My Wave,” and “Fell on Black Days,” dominating the mainstream-rock and alternative charts that year, helping to lift the album to Number One and go platinum five times. Soundgarden released one more album before breaking-up in 1997.


After a short solo career, Cornell formed Audioslave in 2001 with Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk. Audioslave saw much success in the early aughts primarily due to their self-titled debut album in 2002.

After Audioslave, Cornell returned to his solo career and continued nurturing it for the remainder of his life. Temple of the Dog reunited and toured in 2016, Audioslave reformed for a one-off gig on Inauguration Day this past January, and Soundgarden regrouped in 2010, put out an album in 2012, and were on tour at the time of Cornell’s death. He’s survived by his wife Vicky, their two children, and his first daughter from his first marriage to former Soundgarden and Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver. Chris Cornell was 52.


-Taylor Wallace

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