Tragic end for rock icon
Grunge great Cornell found dead in Detroit hotel room
CHRIS Cornell, the emblematic grunge rock singer whose sweeping voice masked lifelong struggles with drugs and depression, took his own life Thursday moments after finishing a concert. He was 52. The singer, whose life had appeared to take an upward turn over the past decade as he went sober, was found dead at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel after his family contacted first responders, police said. Cornell had retired to his hotel room after performing with his main band, Soundgarden, at downtown Detroit’s Fox Theatre.
A statement from the singer’s publicist said his widow, Vicky Karayiannis Cornell, and the rest of the family “were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing” and thanked fans for “their continuous love and loyalty.”
Cornell, with little formal training, possessed one of the music world’s most wide-ranging voices – it could swing nearly four octaves, moving from a deep baritone to a screechingly high tenor with a chilling vibrato. With his flowing curly hair and often bare chest, Cornell showed off his vocal skills on Soundgarden hits such as Black Hole Sun, set to dissonant minor chord progressions on guitar.
The death closes another chapter in grunge, the subgenre that emerged in Seattle in the late 1980s and combined the rough edges of punk rock with a gloomy introspection.
Frontman Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who towered over the grunge scene, died in 1994 and Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland died on a tour bus in 2015 from a drug overdose.
Pop legend Elton John said he was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Cornell, calling him “a great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man.”
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page tweeted: “RIP Chris Cornell. Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed.”
Soundgarden had one of the heaviest sounds in grunge with trappings of heavy metal, even though Cornell cited The Beatles, to whom he listened constantly as a child, as his biggest influence.