Written by: Alex Green
Chris Cornell, who sang for the legendary grunge band Soundgarden, has died.
The Seattle-born Cornell was 52.
Cornell and his bandmates had just played a blistering 20-song set at the Fox Theatre in Detroit only hours before his death.
A little past midnight on Thursday, a close friend of Cornell’s phoned 911 after finding the singer unresponsive on the floor of the bathroom in his MGM Grand Hotel room. According to Detroit police spokesman Michael Woody, not long after emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene, Cornell was pronounced dead.
The cause of death has already been ruled a suicide by hanging, according to a statement by the Wayne County Medical Examiner. The statement also added that a “full autopsy report has not yet been completed.”
Cornell’s publicist Brian Bumbery told the Associated Press that Cornell’s death was “sudden and unexpected.” A picture of fitness, health and age-defying looks, Cornell was a vigorous performer with boundless energy.
In a statement given to CNN, Bumbery went on to say: “His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing…They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”
Formed in 1984, Soundgarden sold over 30 million records worldwide and had a number one album in the U.S. with 1994’s Superunknown.
The lion-throated Cornell who was in possession of a four-octave range, also sang with Audioslave. He’s considered by many to be one of the greatest rock and roll singers of all time.
In a troubling post-show review, the Detroit Free Press’s Ashley Zlatopolsky wrote that something about Soundgarden’s Fox Theatre show was off.
“Even without the benefit of hindsight from the morning’s awful news, it was clear that something wasn’t right,” she wrote. “He often staggered back-and-forth across the stage, and seemed weak in his movements. Just one or two songs in, it was as if the energy had exited his body, and what was left was a shell of a man scrambling to do his job.”
She went on to write that Cornell didn’t seem “mentally present” and that, “he missed words, sometimes in entire blocks, letting the crowd sing the parts of the songs he didn’t.”
Zlatopolsky also noted that, “Cornell was visibly agitated at times. He walked off the stage for several minutes before playing “Been Away Too Long,” causing the band to start over and leaving them playing instrumentals to fill the gap. When he came back onstage, he made a “move it along” motion with his hand.”
However, Benji Tressure, a fan from Kalamazoo, told SEM that the show was, “electric, kinetic and full of soul.”
“He’s my generation’s Robert Plant,” SEM’s Matt Sloan wrote on social media. “And Soundgarden was our ‘Zeppelin.”
Ironically enough, Soundgarden’s final song Wednesday night was a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time Of Dying.”
Cornell is survived by his wife, the publicist Vicky Karayiannis, and his three children.