Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell dead at 52

by: KIRO 7 Staff Updated:

Rocker Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died at age 52. He was on tour with Soundgarden when he committed suicide after a concert on Wednesday night,

>> See photos of Chris Cornell and Soundgarden through the years

Cornell’s representative Brian Bumbery called the death "sudden and unexpected" and said his wife and family were shocked by it.

According to several reports, Cornell's wife called a family friend and asked him to check on the singer in his hotel room.

The friend forced open the door and found Cornell on the bathroom floor, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The medical examiner determined Thursday that Cornell killed himself by hanging. 

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths in 2017Unknown Object

Cornell struggled with drug addiction over the years, but was recently said to be sober. Fans and musicians across the world are sharing their remembrances of Cornell.

Video of Cornell's last performance in Detroit

Unknown ObjectAbout Cornell’s influence on Seattle

With his powerful, nearly four-octave vocal range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s grunge movement with Soundgarden, which emerged as one of the biggest bands out of Seattle's emerging music scene, joining the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.

Cornell, who was born in 1964, grew up in Seattle and went to Christ the King Catholic school in North Seattle and Shorewood High School in Shoreline. He and bassist Kim Thayil, a University of Washington graduate, and Western Washington University alum Hiro Yamamoto were roommates when they formed Soundgarden.

They made their first record in a small triangular building in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood (4230 Leary Way N.W.). It became Reciprocal Recording in 1986, and it’s also where Nirvana recorded their first album, “Bleach.”

Soundgarden's third studio album, "Badmotorfinger," in 1991 spawned enormously popular singles "Jesus Christ Pose," ''Rusty Cage" and "Outshined" that received regular play on alternative rock radio stations.

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 for Mother Love Bone.

 

Three years later, Soundgarden broke through on mainstream radio with the album "Superunknown," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Record in 1995. It included hit singles "Spoonman," ''Fell on Black Days," ''Black Hole Sun," ''My Wave" and "The Day I Tried to Live."

Cornell and his last years

Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 due to tensions in the band, and Cornell pursued a solo career. In 2001, he 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 2012 and released the band's sixth studio album, "King Animal" in 2012.

RELATED >> See seven things you might not know about Chris Cornell and Soundgarden

After his huge fame as a rock musician, Cornell found success writing songs for movies. In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.

The last three songs the band played at Fox Theatre Detroit in an encore Wednesday night were “Rusty Cage,” “Slaves and Bulldozers” and a tribute to the Led Zeppelin song “In My Time of Dying,” a song they frequently played live.

This was Cornell's final Tweet:

Cornell remembered

Musicians are remembering Cornell today. Read their thoughts below
 

Associated Press writer Dennis Waszak in New York contributed to this report.