Chris Cornell, the powerhouse singer whose band Soundgarden helped shaped the world of grunge music, passed away on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. The 52-year-old’s death is currently being investigated as a possible suicide.
Cornell was born on July 20, 1964 in Seattle, Washington. Before he became a successful musician, Cornell worked at a seafood wholesaler and was a sous-chef at a restaurant called Ray's Boathouse. In the early 1980s, Cornell performed in a cover band called The Shemps that toured around Seattle. The Shemps featured bassist Hiro Yamamoto and later on, guitarist Kim Thayil. Although the band eventually broke up, those three continued jamming together.
In 1984, Cornell, Yamamoto and Thayil formed the group, Soundgarden, with eventual drummer Matt Cameron. They signed to the record label Sub Pop and released their first single “Hunted Down” in 1987. In 1998, Soundgarden signed to SST Records to release the group’s debut album, Ultramega OK. This album earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1990. After signing with A&M Records, Soundgarden released their second effort, Louder Than Love. During this time, Yamamoto left the band and was replaced by Ben Shepherd. The release of Badmotofinger brought the band to new levels of success, joining the ranks of Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
Three of Soundgarden’s albums have been certified platinum, including their most popular album Superunknown. This album featured hits “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black Days,” “Spoonman,” and “My Wave.” The group disbanded in 1997, but reunited in 2010 and was performing regularly since then. In 2012, Soundgarden released their first album in 16 years entitled King Animal. The group played at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday, and had been scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday at the Rock on the Range festival.
During and after his time with Soundgarden, Cornell released five solo albums starting with the 1999 LP Euphoria Morning. He contributed the song “Seasons” to the soundtrack of Singles, and performed alongside other members of Soundgarden in the film. Between 2001 and 2007, Cornell performed in the band Audioslave and released three albums before splitting up. In 2016, Cornell hit the road with Temple of the Dog, a supergroup with a blend of members from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. This group was formed as a tribute to Andrew Wood, the lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, who died in March 1990 of an overdose.
Cornell was first married to Soundgarden’s manager, Susan Silver, and had a daughter named Lilian. Following their divorce, Cornell married Vicky Karayiannis and had another daughter, Toni, and a son, Christopher. All of whom survive him.