Friday 15 December 2017

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell 'killed himself'

Chris Cornell performing with Soundgarden at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London in 2012
Chris Cornell performing with Soundgarden at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London in 2012

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell killed himself in a Detroit hotel room, according to the city's medical examiner.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said it had completed the preliminary post-mortem examination on 52-year-old Cornell but that "a full autopsy report has not yet been completed".

Cornell's death stunned his family and his die-hard fans, who he had just performed for hours earlier at a show in Detroit.

Soundgarden's current tour kicked off in late April and was planned to run through until May 27.

Cornell was a leader of the grunge movement with Seattle-based Soundgarden - with whom he gained critical and commercial acclaim - but also found success outside the band with other projects, including Audioslave, Temple Of The Dog as well as solo albums.

He was widely respected in the music industry.

Cornell reached success in every band line-up he was part of, his voice was memorable and powerful, and he was a skilled songwriter.

He collaborated on a number of film soundtracks, including the James Bond theme song for 2006's Casino Royale and The Keeper from the film Machine Gun Preacher, which earned Cornell a Golden Globe nomination.

"To create the intimacy of an acoustic performance there needed to be real stories. They need to be kind of real and they need to have a beginning, middle and an end," Cornell said of songwriting in a 2015 interview with the Associated Press.

"That's always a challenge in three-and-a-half or four minutes - to be able to do that, to be able to do it directly."

Cornell, who grew up in Seattle, said he was kicked out of school aged 15 and he started using drugs at 13.

"I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16," he told Rolling Stone in 1994.

"There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn't deal with anybody, didn't talk to anybody, didn't have any friends at all. All the friends that I had were still (messed) up with drugs and were people that I didn't really have anything in common with."

But at 16 he grew serious about music, learning to play the drums while also working as a busboy and dishwasher.

"That was the toughest time in my life," he told Rolling Stone.

He eventually became a Grammy winner with Soundgarden, formed in 1984 and coming out of the rapidly growing Seattle music scene, which included Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains.

"There's something about Seattle, it's always been a hard rock town, too. I didn't realise growing up as kid that Seattle had much more of a hard rock focus and a guitar rock focus than other cities did," Cornell told the AP in 2011.

"It was like a Detroit, only north-west, kind of. There's no reason that I would think I know how to define it, but it's always been there."

The band, who had released hit songs and found success, marked a mainstream breakthrough with Superunknown, its 1994 album that launched five singles, won them two Grammys and sold more than five million units in the US.

The group, formed with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, broke up in 1997.

In 2001, Cornell joined Audioslave, a supergroup that included former Rage Against The Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.

The band released three albums in six years and also performed at a concert billed as Cuba's first outdoor rock concert by an American band, though some Cuban artists have disputed that claim.

Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and released the band's sixth studio album, King Animal, in 2012.

Cornell also collaborated with members of what would become Pearl Jam to form Temple Of The Dog, which produced a self-titled album in 1991 in tribute to friend Andrew Wood, former frontman of Mother Love Bone.

In 2011, he was ranked ninth on Rolling Stone's list of the best lead singers of all time, selected by its readers.

Cornell also released solo albums, and Nielsen Music said as a band member and solo act, the singer sold almost 15 million albums and 8.8 million digital songs in the US.

The music industry mourned his sudden death online.

Sir Elton John tweeted: "Shocked and saddened by the sudden death of @chriscornell. A great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man."

AP

Press Association

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