Chris Cornell suicide death: What led to the acclaimed front-man singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave taking his own life? A history of existential torment.
Chris Cornell, the lead singer of the 90’s Seattle grunge Soundgarten has died at the age of 52. The musician’s death is being investigated as a suicide.
Notice of the singer’s death came after the musician’s wife called a family friend asking them to check on the rocker, according to channel 4 WDIV Detroit following a gig at Fox Theater in which he finished the set with the song In My Time Of Dying with current band, Audioslave.
It was soon after just before midnight, that Cornell was found dead on the bathroom floor of his hotel room in the MGM Grand Detroit by a friend.
Upon the singer’s passing a statement was released to Associated Press by Cornell’s representatives which read:
‘His wife, Vicky, and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.’
The statement said the family would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause and asked for privacy.
The Detroit Police Department told of Cornell being found with a band around his neck, without releasing further details.
Cornell had been on tour in Detroit when he died, and was active on social media just 8 hours before reports of his death surfaced.
— Chris Cornell (@chriscornell) May 18, 2017
A Seattle native, Cornell began his musical career in the early 1980s, performing in cover bands focused on hard, aggressive music. It was there he would meet his longtime Soundgarden bandmates Hiro Yamamoto and Kim Thayil, forming the group in 1984.
A series of well-received albums distributed through the seminal Seattle-based label Sub Pop followed, but it wasn’t until the 1991 releases of the multi-artist tribute album “Temple of the Dog” and Soundgarden’s own “Badmotorfinger” that Cornell and the group would attract mainstream attention and success.
The band became one of the most influential and popular of its ilk before temporarily disbanding in 1997, where Cornell would go on to produce albums and tour as a solo act, form the supergroup Audioslave with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, and embark on diverse assortment of other musical projects with a wide list of collaborators.
Yet despite his meteoric rise to fame (Cornell in an interview with BBC Radio 6 in 2012 acknowledged success was by no means overnight), Cornell like many gifted musicians had also found himself in the throes of deep addiction during his ascent in the 90’s.
Told Cornell, ‘When I transitioned into adulthood – high-stakes emotional responsibilities – I did everything I could get my hands on. It happened without me really noticing it,’ he confessed.
‘The thing is, when you pick up the pipe for the first time, you don’t know that that’s your fate. The moment isn’t that dramatic. And then that was it – I didn’t want to care anymore.’
Not necessarily understood is if the singer may have at any point relapsed or found himself recently facing trauma that may have led to him choosing suicide.
— CNN International (@cnni) May 18, 2017
With Soundgarden reuniting in 2010, and their last record was King Animal in 2012, Cornell noted that the only real change was the lack of booze on the tour bus after having gone clean.
He said: ‘The biggest difference I noticed… and we haven’t even really talked about it: There are no bottles of Jack Daniels around or beers. And we never talked about.. it’s just not there.’
The band – also comprised of Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd – were due to continue their North American tour and travel to Columbus, Ohio on Friday, with the run ending in Oklahoma on May 27.
During Soundgarden’s 13-year hiatus, Cornell went through a dark period and was admitted to rehab for alcohol addiction.
In 2012, Chris spoke about his struggle with addiction, saying at the time: ‘It’s something that would have happened even if Soundgarden had stayed together.
‘It was a long slow slide and then a long slow recovery, but there was self-discovery too.
‘For me it was mostly alcohol – from my late teens until my late thirties.’
By the early 2000’s the rebellious charismatic rocker had gone on to marry current wife of 13 years, Vicky Karayiannis with the couple parents to Toni, 12 and Christopher, 11.
Cornell was previously married to Susan Silver, with which he fathered daughter Lillian Jean, 17.
Susan was manager of both Alice In Chains and Soundgarden – but they divorced shortly before he married Vicky.
Reflecting on finally finding critical acclaim, the singer told via Rolling Stone in 1992:
‘I can’t say that we’re motivated by anything but achievement.
And the achievement isn’t based on things like Grammy nominations or chart positions. It’s based on what we do musically and how we personally feel about it. Nothing could be worse for us, I think, than if we made what we thought was the worst record we’d made, and it ended up selling a lot. I think we’re all so self-conscious and prone to disillusionment that that would really make our lives hard as far as wanting to make another record after that.’
Throughout his long career, Cornell’s multi-octave, cutting voice and dark lyrics were instantly recognizable to two generations of fans. Cornell battled and, apparently overcame, dependencies on drugs and alcohol in the 1990s. Unless of course he recently capitulated whether to substance abuse or the torment that underlies so much inner turmoil ….
No! Not Chris Cornell! I feel like someone has just stabbed my soul. One of the best singers rock has ever known. #sayhellotoheaven
— Jeff Harris (@jeff4357) May 18, 2017
Another voice from our generation silenced. RIP Chris Cornell Say hi to Layne, Kurt, and Scott for me.
— KarateDonuts™️ (@KarateDonuts) May 18, 2017