Fell on Black Days - Chris Cornell dead at age 52

Powerful vocalist from Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave dies at age 52.

By: Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@whenitwascool.com)

This story is developing.  Updates will appear at the bottom of this article.

The news broke early in the morning on May 18, 2017 that one of the most recognizable voices and names of the grunge rock scene, Chris Cornell, had died at the age of 52.  

Chris Cornell had been on tour with Soundgarden and had played in Detroit on Wednesday night.  Later that night, at an as yet unreleased time, Cornell passed away.  Spokesperson Brian Bumbery said in a statement made to The Associated Press that Cornell's death was “sudden and unexpected.”  No cause of death has yet been determined.

Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden are generally considered the most influential groups of the grunge scene in the early 1990s post-metal rock and roll era.  After nearly two decades of heavy metal music evolution from the 1970's acts like Black Sabbath to the implosion of metal music into the hair metal bands of the late 1980's like Poison, rock music rebelled against the glam look and pop-ish music that rock had descended into.  Out of this backlash came grunge, a stripped down, heavy, angsty sound but decisively heavy in tone.  Chris Cornell's stunning vocal range and power were instrumental and iconic during this movement.

The Soundgarden album Superunknown became a major breakthrough album in March 1994 and debuted at number one on the Billboard.  The album included successful singles like "Spoonman" and "Black Hole Sun" and achieved quintuple platinum status in the United States.  Three years later Soundgarden disbanded, though obviously, reunited years later.  While in Soundgarden, Chris Cornell recorded an album with members of Pearl Jam called Temple of the Dog and released a self-titled album in 1991.

 Soundgarden

Soundgarden

In the meantime, Chris Cornell worked on solo material and amassed a solid body of work.  But yet another big band break-through was coming.  Audioslave was formed when Zack de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine and the remaining members of the band were searching for another vocalist.  Famed producer Rick Rubin suggested that they contact Chris Cornell.  The new unit, which would become Audioslave, began working in the studio in late May 2001.  Audioslave continued until 2007 when Cornell left to again pursue solo work.  On January 1, 2010, Chris Cornell first announced a Soundgarden reunion on his Twitter account, saying: "The 12-year break is over and school is back in session."

Update 07:19 AM Central:  Rolling Stone is reporting that Chris Cornell's death is being investigated as a possible suicide.

Update 1:06 PM Central:  The Associated Press is reporting that the Chris Cornell cause of death was suicide by hanging.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

National Suicide Prevention 24 hour hotline - 1-800-273-8255

Update:  12:13 PM Central:  Chris Cornell's wife is disputing the reports that his death was intentional suggesting that his medication may have caused him to be unaware what he was doing.

 Audioslave

Audioslave

If you found this article interesting consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  That is how When It Was Cool keeps our website and podcasts online, plus you get lots of bonus content including extra and extended podcasts, articles, digital comics, ebooks, and much more.  Check out our Patreon Page to see what's up!

If you don't want to use Patreon but still want to support When It Was Cool then how about a one time $5 PayPal donation? Thank you!