The music community is once again experiencing the loss of another great musician. Chris Cornell, born on July 20th in 1964, died on May 17th at the age of 52. Early that day, he was on stage performing with Soundgarden at Detroit’s Fox Theatre.
Chris was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. A loner who dealt with depression from an early age, found a way of expression through rock music. Jamming together with Kim Thayil in a cover band called The Shemps in the early 80s, they ended up forming Soundgarden in 1984. Their first material drew the attention of major labels, but they chose to release their debut album ‘Ultramega OK’ with SST Records (1988). This record gave Soundgarden their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1990. This album established the musical identity of the band, which made them later a remarkable one earning the admiration and positive comments of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. The influence of Led Zeppelin, followed by many rock bands at that time, the punk elements, the low tuning, the slow Black Sabbath-ish stoner-ism, and the exceptional vocal range of Chris Cornell (near four octaves vocal range), made Soundgarden the band which widened the lines between rock n’ roll and metal. Although Soundgarden are considered as the pioneers of grunge along with Alice In Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam, Chris and the other members as well as their fans knew and still know that they were more than that.
The band dealt with many internal disagreements, and that led to their disbandment in 1997. Despite the difficulties between the members, Soundgarden left their mark avoiding to cross the line of commercialism. ‘Bandmotorfinger’ (1992) and ‘Superunknown’ (1994) are still two great albums with standout tracks like ‘Jesus Christ Pose’, ‘Spoonman’, and ‘Black Hole Sun’. In 2010, Chris Cornell announced the reunion of the band and released ‘King Animal’ in 2012.
Cornell while he was still in Soungarden, recorded an album with musicians who later formed Pearl Jam. The project was called Temple Of The Dog was a tribute to Chris’ friend Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone vocalist) who died from heroin overdose in 1990. The self-titled album went platinum and it includes ‘Hunger Strike’ in which Eddie Vedder is on backing vocals.
After the end of Soundgarden, Chris followed a solo career releasing five albums from 1999 until 2015.
In 2001 Audioslave were formed when the remaining members of Rage Against The Machine, after the departure of Zack de la Rocha were looking for a vocalist. Their debut self-titled album became triple platinum. The second album ‘Out Of Exile’ according to Chris includes his most personal writing than ever, after experiencing a life change since 2002. After three studio albums the band came to an end in 2007, as the members of R.A.T.M. were about to be reunite.
Anticomformist regarding music writing, with poetic lyrics, and with an amazing vocal ability to sing from hard rock, blues, and clean acoustic, Chris Cornell was a great and talented musician. Authentic and honest in his musical choices, he entered the mainstream from its “good side”.
When Prince died, Chris Cornell was one of the artists to pay tribute admitting that although he was not a fan of Prince, he couldn’t avoid admitting he was a great artist. “…That part I felt really good about, it’s like everybody noticed how great this guy was, and that makes me happy.”
The same goes to you Chris. You’ll be missed.