Rocker Chris Cor­nell com­mits sui­cide


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS ✦ CANADA & BEYOND - Mesfin Fekadu

Chris Cor­nell had be­come one of the most lauded and re­spected con­tem­po­rary lead singers in rock mu­sic, thanks to his charis­matic en­ergy on­stage and wide vo­cal range. He was a leader of the grunge move­ment with Seat­tle-based Soundgar­den — with whom he gained crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial ac­claim — but also found suc­cess out­side the band with other projects, in­clud­ing Au­dioslave, Tem­ple of the Dog as well as solo al­bums.

His death Wed­nes­day night stunned his fam­ily and his die-hard fans, who Cor­nell just per­formed for hours ear­lier at a show in Detroit. The city’s med­i­cal ex­am­iner said in a pre­lim­i­nary au­topsy re­sult Thurs­day that the 52-year-old singer killed him­self by hang­ing. A po­lice spokesman told two Detroit news­pa­pers that the singer was found with a band around his neck.

Soundgar­den’s cur­rent tour kicked off in late April and was planned to run through May 27.

Cor­nell was widely re­spected in the mu­sic in­dus­try: He reached suc­cess in ev­ery band lineup he was part of it, his voice was mem­o­rable and pow­er­ful, and he was a skilled song­writer, even col­lab­o­rat­ing on a num­ber of film soundtracks, in­clud­ing the James Bond theme song for 2006’s “Casino Royale” and “The Keeper” from the film “Ma­chine Gun Preacher,” which earned Cor­nell a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion.

“To cre­ate the in­ti­macy of an acous­tic per­for­mance there needed to be real sto­ries. They need to be kind of real and they need to have a be­gin­ning, mid­dle and an end. That’s al­ways a chal­lenge in three in a half or four min­utes — to be able to do that, to be able to do it di­rectly,” Cor­nell said of song­writ­ing in a 2015 in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Cor­nell, who grew up in Seat­tle, said he was kicked out of school at age 15 and he started us­ing drugs at 13.

“I went from be­ing a daily drug user at 13 to hav­ing bad drug ex­pe­ri­ences and quit­ting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not hav­ing any friends un­til the time I was 16,” he told Rolling Stone in 1994. “There was about two years where I was more or less ago­ra­pho­bic and didn’t deal with any­body, didn’t talk to any­body, didn’t have any friends at all. All the friends that I had were still (messed) up with drugs and were peo­ple that I didn’t re­ally have any­thing in com­mon with.”

But at 16 he grew se­ri­ous about mu­sic, learn­ing to play the drums while also work­ing as a bus­boy and dish­washer.

“That was the tough­est time in my life,” he told Rolling Stone.

He even­tu­ally be­came a Grammy win­ner with Soundgar­den, formed in 1984 and com­ing out of the rapidly grow­ing Seat­tle mu­sic scene, which in­cluded Nir­vana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.

“There’s some­thing about Seat­tle, it’s al­ways been a hard rock town, too. I didn’t re­al­ize grow­ing up as kid that Seat­tle had much more of a hard rock fo­cus and a guitar rock fo­cus than other cities did,” Cor­nell told the AP in 2011. “It was like a Detroit, only north­west kind of. There’s no rea­son that I would think I know how to de­fine it, but it’s al­ways been there.”

The band, who had re­leased hit songs and found suc­cess, marked a main­stream break­through with “Su­pe­run­k­nown,” its 1994 al­bum that launched five sin­gles, won them two Gram­mys and sold more than five mil­lion units in the U.S.

The group, formed with gui­tarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Ya­mamoto, broke up in 1997.

In 2001, Cor­nell 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 2010 and re­leased the band’s sixth stu­dio al­bum, “King An­i­mal” in 2012.

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 of Mother Love Bone. In 2011, he was ranked ninth on Rolling Stone list of the best lead singers of all-time, se­lected by its read­ers.

Cor­nell also re­leased solo al­bums, and Nielsen Mu­sic said as a band mem­ber and solo act, the singer sold al­most 15 mil­lion al­bums and 8.8 mil­lion dig­i­tal songs in the U.S.

His first solo al­bum, 1999’s “Eu­pho­ria Morn­ing,” was a dark al­bum that was ini­tially sup­posed to be ti­tled “Eu­pho­ria Mourn­ing.”

“It was a pretty dark al­bum lyri­cally and pretty de­press­ing, and I was go­ing through a re­ally dif­fi­cult time in my life — my band wasn’t to­gether any­more, my mar­riage was fall­ing apart and I was deal­ing with it by drink­ing way too much, and that has its own prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly with de­pres­sion,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015.

Cor­nell ref­er­enced death — and sui­cide — in 2007 in­ter­view with the AP when dis­cussing his sin­gle, “No Such Thing.” It ap­peared on his sec­ond solo al­bum, “Carry On.”

“The ‘no such thing as noth­ing’ line comes from the con­cepts that hu­mans don’t re­ally have a flat line un­til we’re dead. If we are not lead­ing a happy pro­duc­tive life, we are lead­ing prob­a­bly an un­happy non-pro­duc­tive life. If a per­son doesn’t have enough food, they ac­tu­ally are hun­gry. If they don’t have enough money it’s not that they have no money, they ac­tu­ally have some­thing and it’s called poverty. There’s no just kind of flat lin­ing coast­ing. You’re ei­ther go­ing in one di­rec­tion or in an­other di­rec­tion. All that came out of me try­ing to imag­ine why some­body would be, for ex­am­ple, a sui­cide bomber.”

The mu­sic in­dus­try mourned his sud­den death on­line. El­ton John tweeted, “Shocked and sad­dened by the sud­den death of @chriscor­nell. A great singer, song­writer and the loveli­est man.”

“RIP Chris Cor­nell. In­cred­i­bly Tal­ented. In­cred­i­bly Young. In­cred­i­bly Missed,” Jimmy Page tweeted.

As­so­ci­ated Press photo

In this 2015 file photo, Chris Cor­nell plays guitar dur­ing a por­trait ses­sion at The Para­mount Ranch in Agoura Hills, Calif.

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