When news broke worldwide at around 6 PM AEST on 18th May 2017, the rock world went into a mourning. Chris Cornell, the beloved lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, had passed at the young age of 52.
Starting in 1984 with Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, over time, became a name synonymous with the great Seattle grunge sound of the 90’s. Also starting a side project in 1991 with Temple of the Dog and only releasing one album, Chris was a well-known name in the music scene.
Having gone through many band changes, it was 10 years until their breakthrough 4th album Superunknown was released. Superunknown debuted at number one on the billboard 200 in 1994 with critical hit singles Spoonman and Black Hole Sun. These singles caused the album to have commercial success throughout the United States and around the world to claim many milestones. Such milestones included a quadruple platinum status in the US, triple platinum in Canada and a gold status in the UK, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
The band’s 1996 5th album Down on the Upside was a self-produced album with Chris leading the helm. This brought out some incredible singles Pretty Noose and Burden in My Hand which was both experimental but also a highlight of Chris Cornell and his maturity into the scene.
In 1998, Chris decided that it was time to pursue a solo career with Alain Johannes and Natasha Schneider of the band Eleven. This brought us the 1999 album Euphoria Morning, the first album into Chris Cornell’s solo career and a taste of things to come. As much as the album was commercially unsuccessful, Can’t Change Me was nominated for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 2000 Grammy Awards. It also had an incredible tribute to Chris’ late friend Jeff Buckley in the single Wave Goodbye.
After Chris’ foray into the solo world, he joined the already formed Rage Against the Machine after Zach De La Rocha’s departure to form Audioslave. This band’s hard rock stylings mixed with Chris’ vocals earned a quick status in the rock world. Only releasing two albums under Audioslave (Audioslave and Out of Exile), Audioslave’s popularity already eclipsed what they expected from the joining of Chris to the band. Morello described Chris after they were approached “He stepped to the microphone and sang the song and I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t just sound good. It didn’t sound great. It sounded transcendent. And … when there is an irreplaceable chemistry from the first moment, you can’t deny it.” (“Audioslave: Unshackled, Ready To Rage”. MTV).
The second Audioslave album Out of Exile stuck with critics, stating Chris’ stronger vocals, likely from quitting smoking and drinking during the tour of the self-titled album. (Scaggs, Austin (July 14, 2005). “Q&A: Chris Cornell”. Rolling Stone).
All of Audioslave’s lyrics were written by Chris though had all 4 members credited to writing due to the collaborative songwriting the band had as a whole.
February 15, 2007, saw Chris officially announce that he was departing Audioslave to further pursue his solo career once more. On June 5, a mere 4 months after leaving Audioslave, Chris announced his second solo album Carry On, produced by Steve Lillywhite. It premiered number 17 on the American Billboard charts and included songs he was not able to put onto an Audioslave album. This time though, his solo career spanned over a decade including solo hits like The Keeper for the movie “Machine Gun Preacher” which gained him a nomination for the 2012 Golden Globes.
In the last 3 years (2015-2017), Chris reunited his old bands Soundgarden and Audioslave to tour once more while also promoting his solo collection. These tours led to being a headline for the last ever Australian hard festival, SOUNDWAVE, with Soundgarden and touring with the Prophets of Rage at the ANTI-INAUGURAL BALL to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
Chris Cornell was a man of many talents and a voice than never be replicated or copied. He was a one of a kind artist and entertainer and will be sorely missed in the global music community. As stated in the Soundgarden hit, “We fell on black days”.