• Chris Cornell and Soundgarden: 7 things to know

    By: Casey McNerthney


    Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was found dead in his Detroit hotel room Wednesday, and the city’s medical examiner said Thursday Cornell committed suicide by hanging.

    Cornell’s death at age 52 brought tribute across the country, and in Seattle thousands gathered outside the KEXP studios at Seattle Center.

    Below are seven things about Chris Cornell and Soundgarden. Follow this link to see a look at his life in pictures, and go here to read Cornell’s full obituary.

    1. Soundgarden formed in 1984 in Seattle with Chris Cornell on drums. The band signed with Sub Pop before moving to A&M Records in 1988. Their first EP, "Screaming Life," was on orange vinyl. They also released a single in 1987. 

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

    3. Soundgarden 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." 

    4. The band was named after the wind channeling art sculpture called A Sound Garden next to Magnuson Park in Seattle. Thayil described it as "bleak" and "sublime." 

    5. The band first got major coverage in The Rocket, a local music newspaper that put them on the cover by name in December 1987 and by photo in October 1988. The first time The Seattle Times covered the band was Feb. 13, 1987, when they and six other bands played a benefit show at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square. Tickets were $4. 

    6. Many of their early shows were at Gorilla Gardens/Rock Theater at 410 Fifth Ave. S. in the International District. The building is still there, but is now home to a carpet business. The club also moved to Fremont (307 Nickerson) in 1985. That building also remains, but the club is long gone.

    7. Another early venue for Soundgarden was The Vogue at 2018 First Ave. That's also where Nirvana was said to have played their first show (though that's debated), and Pearl Jam played their under first name, Mookie Blaylock. Today the space is a hair salon and boutique.

    At PJ20, a festival in September 2011 for Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary, Eddie Vedder said Cornell was one of the first people he met outside the band.

    “I had no idea how it would affect my life and my views on music and my views on friendship and what a big impact he would have,” Vedder told the crowd. He then introduced “my old neighbor, Chris Cornell.”

    Watch Cornell and Pearl Jam – Temple of the Dog, with Vedder – “Hunger Strike” at PJ20 below.


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