Update: the Associated Press has reported that the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled Chris Cornell’s death a hanging by suicide.
BREAKING: Medical examiner determines Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell committed suicide by hanging in Detroit.
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 18, 2017
Chris Cornell, recognized as having brought the grunge movement of the 1990s into the forefront of youth culture, has died following a gig in Detroit Wednesday evening.
Cornell’s representative, Brian Bumbery, in a statement to the Associated Press, called the death “sudden and unexpected” following a performance at Detroit’s Fox Theater the previous night.
While details are still not fully known, Detroit police spokesman Michael Woody has said “based on basic things observed at the scene,” police have reason to investigate the circumstances as a possible suicide. Bumbery has stated the late frontman’s family “working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.”
The singer was discovered in his MGM Grand Detroit hotel room “with a band around his neck” by a family friend, the Detroit Free Press reported, after Cornell’s wife requested he check on him. Cornell was found unresponsive on the floor of the bathroom after the door was forced open.
Cornell formed Soundgarden in 1984, but the band catapulted to alt-rock fame with their double-platinum-selling 1991 album, Badmotorfinger. The first grunge band to sign a record contract with a major label, Soundgarden played a paramount role setting in motion the cultural winds of the grunge wave that shaped alternative culture in the 1990s. Soundgarden’s subsequent release, Superunknown, propelled the band to international fame, reaching number one on the Billboard charts and sliding to the top 20 in over 10 countries on the strength of the breakthrough hit, “Black Hole Sun.” The music video accompanying the single is concerned among the decade’s most chilling and iconic. The band collected two Grammy Awards in 1995 for “Black Hole Sun” and other Superunknown single “Spoonman.”
The dynamic songwriting talents of Cornell were explored in the form of a slew of musical projects in addition to Soundgarden. With members of fellow 90s giants Pearl Jam, Cornell released an album under the guise of Temple of the Dog, featuring the grunge staple “Hunger Strike,” in 1991.
Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 and grunge reached its twilight shortly thereafter, fading by the end of the 1990s. Regrouping alongside the remaining members of Rage Against the Machine following frontman Zack de la Rocha’s departure, Cornell with Audioslave’s triple-platinum self-titled debut in 2002. Garnering three Grammy nominations, the supergroup made history marking the first American group to perform an open-air concert in Cuba.
Following the breakup of Audioslave in 2008, Soundgarden reunited with the release of King Animal 2012. Soundgarden had been working on their first album since King Animal at the time of Cornell’s death.
You can watch Soundgarden perform their final rendition of the Grammy Award-winning “Spoonman” with Chris Cornell at Detroit’s Fox Theater below:
Reactions from friends and musicians…
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I love you, brother. Thank you for your friendship and your humor and your intellect and your singular and unmatched talent. It was a great honor to know you as a friend and as a band mate. I am devastated and deeply saddened that you are gone dear friend but your unbridled rock power, delicate haunting melodies and the memory of your smile are with us forever. Your beautiful voice and beautiful self will always be in my heart. God bless you and your family.
RIP Chris Cornell
Incredibly Missed. pic.twitter.com/pKNI4tKiXz
— Jimmy Page (@JimmyPage) May 18, 2017
A shining voice in music has left us in the midnight. He was a complex and gentle soul #ChrisCornell has flown into the black hole sun.
— Perry Farrell (@perryfarrell) May 18, 2017
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) May 18, 2017