A look at the life of Chris Cornell

A look at the life of Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell dies at 52

May 18, 2017
Black hole sun...won't you come...and wash away the rain

Chris Cornell, the singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist for Seattle rock band Soundgarden, and as the lead singer-songwriter for Audioslave died on 17 May, at the age of 52. He will be forever remembered as one of the true architects of the 1990s grunge movement.

Early life

Cornell was born on 20 July 1964 in Seattle, Washington. He grew up in Seattle and attended Christ the King Catholic elementary school, and Shorewood High School. He had five siblings, and three of them - Peter, Katy, and Suzy - performed music for the 90s band, Inflatable Soule.

In his teens, he was a loner and suffered for social anxiety. He chose music as the medium to combat his neurological issues. 

Soundgarden (1984–1997; 2010–2017)

In the early 1980s, in his mid-teens, Cornell joined a Seattle cover band called The Shemps. Hiro Yamamoto, and later his replacement, Kim Thayil, were the guitarists for The Shemps. Cornell, Kim, and Yamamoto stayed in contact after The Shemps dismantled, and eventually formed the band Soundgarden in 1984. Cornell sang and played the drums for the band until Scott Sundquist joined the band as a drummer. Sundquist left the band in 1986 for family reasons and was replaced by Matt Cameron, who became Soundgarden's permanent drummer.

Along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden became one of the most successful bands from Seattle's emerging grunge scene in the early 1990s. 

Soundgarden discography

  • Ultramega OK, 1988
  • Louder Than Love, 1989
  • Badmotorfinger, 1991
  • Superunknown, 1994
  • Down on the Upside, 1996
  • King Animal, 2012

Solo career (1998–2000; 2006–2017)

In the late 90s, Cornell embarked on a solo career. His first solo album, Euphoria Morning, in which he collaborated with Alain Johannes and Natasha Shneider, was released on September 21, 1999. For the next several months, he toured and performed in support of Euphoria Morning.  Contributing musicians Alain Johannes, Natasha Shneider, Rick Markmann, and Greg Upchurch, were part of the touring band. The album was commercially unsuccessful, although the single "Can't Change Me" was nominated for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 2000 Grammy Awards. 

In June 2007, Cornell released his second solo album, Carry On, which was produced by Steve Lillywhite, a record producer from England. His friend, Gary Lucas, contributed acoustic guitar to some of the songs in the album. The album debuted at number 17 on the American Billboard charts. 

In 2008, Cornell collaborated with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington and performed live in the Projekt Revolution tour.

For his next (third) solo album, Scream, Cornell worked with producer Timbaland. The album was released in March 2009 and reached #10 on the Billboard 200.

In August 2011 Cornell released the song "The Keeper," for the Marc Forster directed 2011 film Machine Gun Preacher. 

He released his fourth and final solo studio album, Higher Truth, in September 2015.

Discography as a solo performer

  • Euphoria Morning, 1999
  • Carry On, 2007
  • Scream, 2009
  • Higher Truth, 2015

Audioslave (2001–2007)

In 2001, Cornell, with former Rage Against the Machine members  Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk, formed the band Audioslave. Audioslave came about because Rage Against the Machine disbanded after Zack de la Rocha left, leaving the three remaining members to search for a replacement vocalist.

The band's debut album, Audioslave, released in November 2002, reached the triple platinum status in the United States. The album had hits such as "Cochise," "Like a Stone" and "Show Me How to Live."
Their second album, Out of Exile, was released in May 2005 and reached number one on the American charts. The album features the singles "Out of Exile", "Be Yourself," "Your Time Has Come," and "Doesn't Remind Me". 
Their third and final album, Revelations (2006,) was released in  September 2006. The album was influenced by 1960s and 1970s funk and R&B music.

On January 20, 2017, Audioslave reunited for their first show in twelve years at Prophets of Rage's Anti-Inaugural Ball, protesting President Donald Trump's inauguration as President of United States. 

Personal life

Cornell was married to Susan Silver, the manager of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. They divorced in December 2008. Cornell later married Vicky Karayiannis, a Paris-based American publicist of Greek heritage. 

On May 17, 2017, Cornell died suddenly in Detroit after performing at a show with Soundgarden according to his representative, Brian Bumbery. Detroit Police is still investigating the death to determine the cause.

Quotes

It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help...it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know, they give you such a simple message that any idiot can get and it's just over and over, but the bottom line is really, and this is the part that is scary for everyone, the individual kinda has to want it...not kinda, you have to want it and to not do that crap anymore or you will never stop and it will just kill you. -- on beating addictions.

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. -- on the lack of alcohol in the reformed Soundgarden.

Trivia

Before becoming a successful musician, Cornel worked as sous-chef at a restaurant named Ray's Boathouse in Seattle.