3. Throwback Thursday: Remembering Chris Cornell
By Nick Shekeryk
I've seen angels fall from blinding heights/
But you yourself are nothing so divine/
Just next in line
-Chris Cornell, “You Know My Name”
This month marks two years since the death of Seattle rock vocalist Chris Cornell, who died at the age of 52. Through a career that spanned more than 30 years, Cornell was regarded as arguably one of the greatest voices in modern rock and roll history.
Cornell’s interest in music developed early in life, as the Seattle native often found music as a way to connect with people while coping with bouts of anxiety and depression that mostly kept him isolated throughout his teenage years. Cornell got his first gig as a musician playing in a local cover band with the likes of guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, with whom he would eventually form grunge band Soundgarden in 1984.
After the band’s first year, which consisted of jam sessions in which Cornell sang while playing drums, Soundgarden sought out a drummer and ultimately landed on Matt Cameron.
Behind Cornell’s unique four-octave-ranging voice, Thayil’s shredding guitar and Cameron’s pavement-pounding drums, Soundgarden began to build clout for the grunge movement, along with Seattle bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice In Chains. Soundgarden set the pace for the scene by becoming the first grunge band to both earn a Grammy Award nomination and sign with a major label.
While Soundgarden was on the verge of stardom, Cornell recorded a revered album with the members of Pearl Jam under the name Temple of the Dog.
By the time Soundgarden’s album Superunknown arrived in 1994, the band rose to international acclaim, debuting at number one on the Billboard charts.
Mounting fame created a schism within the band, eventually leading Soundgarden to break up in 1997. Soundgarden’s demise led to continued success for Cornell’s career as a solo artist and later as the frontman of a band with members of Rage Against the Machine under the moniker Audioslave.
Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and become stronger than ever.
Cornell was discovered unconscious and unresponsive in a Detroit hotel room on May 18, 2017, shortly after the band performed that night. His death was ruled as a suicide.
Chris Cornell’s impact on the Seattle grunge music scene was as monumental as his voice, and though he will be missed by legions of adoring fans across the globe, we are lucky to have had the chance to hear his angelic voice before he had to “Say Hello 2 Heaven.”
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