For the past year we’ve truly had some shocking deaths from the music world. The sudden loss of Chris Cornell, the leader, and lead singer of the now legendary band Soundgarden was one we truly did not expect. Since the news of his death is so sudden, we don’t know the cause as of yet. He played a show in Detroit just a few hours ago. That being said, to lose him just weeks before his 53rd birthday is truly tragic. Easily one of the most talented musicians of the late 1980s, early 1990s Seattle music scene. He grew up pretty much a loner. As a teenager he got into music when as he has stated many times he found a large collection of Beatles records in an abandoned basement of his neighbors house. He would spend over two years absorbing this music, which led him to want to pursue music as a career.
Things didn’t go smooth at first. During his teenage years Chris would have to deal with severe depression, which became so crippling to him that he would hardly leave his house. He would eventually have to drop out of high school since he missed so many days due to his illness. After receiving treatment he would begin to become a part of the local music scene, eventually meeting both Hiro Yamamoto, and Kim Thayil whom he would eventually form the band “Soundgarden” with. It would be at this point that Chris would begin to get recognition for his voice. Realizing that he not only had a range in multiple octaves, but also a powerful “vocal belting” technique that would give him a unique style. Soundgarden would become the first band of the Seattle Grunge scene to get a record deal when A&M Records signed them in 1989 to record their second album “Louder Than Love” that at the time was promoted as a Heavy Metal album with a Zeppelin/Sabbath sound, and also one of the very first albums to contain a “Parental Advisory” sticker.
This time period which should’ve been a happy time in Chris’ life would be marked by tragedy when his best friend, and roommate Andrew Wood, who at the time was in the most popular band on the scene called “Mother Love Bone” died of a heroin overdose. No one knew it at the time, but his death would completely change the trajectory of music history, as two of that band’s members would end up forming another band that would eventually become Pearl Jam. Ironically it would be at this point that Chris would decide to form another band as a tribute to Andrew that would become known as “Temple Of The Dog”. It would include a singer from San Diego by the name of Eddie Vedder who basically was asked to sing a song with Chris called “Hunger Strike” that basically be his initiation into Pearl Jam. At the time the record really didn’t sell well, but would once both Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam broke big a couple years later. Soundgarden would finally break big after years of paying their dues with the now classic record “Badmotorfinger” in 1991, and at the request of Axl Rose who was a huge fan of the band, would become the opening act for Guns N’ Roses on the American leg of their “Use Your Illusion” world tour, giving the band exposure to tens of thousands of people per night.
Following that tour Soundgarden would become one of the biggest bands in the world. The release of their album “Superunknown” in 1994 would make Chris a household name, and expose the brilliance not only of his singing voice, but also his songwriting. Their next album “Down The Upside” would come in 1996, then the band would break up soon after shocking everyone. Chris at that point would release a solo album “Euphoria Morning”, then join the Supergroup Audioslave in 2001. In 2010 after a twelve year hiatus Chris shocked everyone by announcing that Soundgarden had planned to reunite, which at the time was truly a surprise because he had just had his most successful solo album “Scream” a year earlier. From that point onward Chris stayed busy with many projects. Even reforming Temple Of The Dog for a tour in 2016 for the 25th anniversary of their self titled album.
As stated earlier at this point the cause of Chris’ death has not been revealed. All that is known is he had just finished a show in Detroit. This loss is so tragic for so many reasons. Not only for how young he was, but also how respected he was as a musician, and songwriter not only by fans, but also his peers. As the many musical projects of his life prove, Chris had a deep musical background, never allowed himself to be pigeonholed into just one style or genre. He was willing to try different things, experiment with different sounds. He leaves behind a body of musical work that will be studied, respected, and influential to many new fans for generations to come.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his kids who now have to grow up without their father.
Essential Albums :
Ultramega OK (1988)
Louder Than Love (1989)
Down The Upside (1996)
King Animal (2012)
Temple Of The Dog :
Temple Of The Dog (1991)
Euphoria Morning (1999)
Carry On (2007)
Higher Truth (2015)
Out Of Exile (2005)