As most have undoubtedly heard, Chris Cornell (52), a voice of a generation, died early Thursday morning (May 18, 2017), at the MGM Grand in Detroit, Michigan. The autopsy report puts Cornell’s time of death shortly after the Soundgarden concert. The report also states that the cause of death was by hanging.
The late singer’s wife, Vicky Cornell, has issued a statement in which she claims that her husband’s suicide might be the result of his taking an extra dose of his prescription anxiety medication, Ativan. Vicky claims that Chris’ speech was slurred, a side effect of taking too much of the drug, when they spoke over the phone after the concert Wednesday night, and that during the conversation he said that he may have taken an extra pill or two.
Chris Cornell is survived by his wife, Vicky, and three children, Lillian Jean, Toni, and Christopher Nicholas. Thoughts, prayers, and sympathies are with you.
Those are the facts as presently known.
There’s a caveat that needs to be said. If you suffer from depression and turned to Cornell’s music for support and guidance, do not see his death as permission. Seek help, because I’m convinced the prescription drugs affected his actions and that he would not have taken the course he did had he been of sound mind.
What Chris Cornell Meant to Me:
I was first introduced to Soundgarden back in about 1992, in a friend’s basement while having a few beers with some friends. The album was Badmotorfinger. As fans of hardand , we were primed for the hard and distorted riffs, the heavy bass lines, and the pummeling percussions of tracks like “Rusty Cage,” “Outshined,” “Slaves & Bulldozers,” “Jesus Christ Pose,” and pretty much the rest of the album.
I’m unsure of the chronology, it was a long time ago after all, but Soundgarden might have been my introduction to grunge music, although we called it “alternative” back then. If I had heard Nirvana or seen Alice in Chains open for Van Halen prior to this basement listening to Soundgarden, it doesn’t change the fact that this event marked my official move toward the genre.
Although Soundgarden was never a “favorite” band for me, it did go into pretty heavy rotation, and for years since I’ve preached that Chris Cornell had one of the greatest voices in rock; citing, in particular, his work on Temple of the Dog. Itself a tribute band/album to Mother Love Bone’s late vocalist Andrew Wood, Temple of the Dog was formed by Cornell and features, in my opinion, some of his best work. “Say Hello 2 Heaven,” “Reach Down,” “Call Me a Dog,” “Wooden Jesus” — the great songs on the album abound.
For years to come, it was Temple of the Dog that kept me coming back for more. My interest in Soundgarden faded with the release of Down on the Upside and my interest in Audioslave was fleeting at best, even with great songs like “Like a Stone.”
To circle back around to the basement, Chris Cornell and Soundgarden helped to forge solid friendships between me and the guys, and I’m sure we weren’t the only band of hoodlums whose bond was fortified by their music. Judging from the outpouring of condolences online and the tributes that seemingly every band on tour are making, Chris Cornell’s music touched many lives.
Of course, Soundgarden wasn’t the only band that me and my friends were interested in. Our pillars of grunge were the same as everyone else’s: Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, and Stone Temple Pilots. These bands changed music’s landscape, and of those great bands and all the great music they created, only one frontman remains.
It might be strident, but my opinion is that if there’s not at least one song sung by Chris Cornell that raises the hairs on your arms, then there’s something wrong with you. If you’re not familiar with any of his music, then do yourself a favor and start listening.
It’s with heavy hearts that we say goodbye. The world is a darker place without your light, but we thank you for the music and the melodies. And if there’s a place we go to after this life, you’re with friends and surely jamming.