Grunge rock icon Chris Cornell dies in possible suicide
New York (AFP) – Chris Cornell, an emblematic grunge rock singer whose sweeping voice masked lifelong struggles with drugs and depression, died after a concert in a possible suicide, police said Thursday. He was 52.
Hours after he played in Detroit with his main band Soundgarden, first responders rushed to his room at the MGM Grand hotel after being alerted by his family, a police spokeswoman said.
Cornell was found unresponsive and his death “is being treated as a possible suicide,” Officer Jennifer Moreno said, while stressing that no final determination had been made.
The rocker’s wife, Vicky Karayiannis Cornell, and the rest of the family “were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause,” the singer’s publicist Brian Bumbery said in a statement.
“They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time,” he said.
Cornell, with little formal training, had one of the music world’s most wide-ranging voices which could swing nearly four octaves, moving from a deep baritone to a screechingly high tenor.
He showed off his vocal skills on Soundgarden’s hits such as “Black Hole Sun,” set to dissonant minor chord progressions on guitar.
The death closes another chapter in grunge, the subgenre that emerged in Seattle in the late 1980s and combined the rough edges of punk rock with a gloomy introspection.
Frontman Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who towered over the grunge scene, killed himself in 1994 and Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland died on a tour bus in 2015 from a drug overdose.
Soundgarden had one of the heaviest sounds in grunge with trappings of heavy metal, even though Cornell cited The Beatles, to whom he listened constantly as a child, as his biggest influence.
Cornell, a Seattle native, wrestled with drugs, alcohol and depression most of his life, once even calling a metal magazine to confirm a tour cancellation from a payphone at a rehab clinic.
Besides Soundgarden, Cornell founded the early grunge band Temple of the Dog and also sang with the supergroup Audioslave — which involved members of Rage Against the Machine and saw Cornell taking on a more political edge.
Cornell is survived by three children. Two are with his second wife Karayiannis, a Greek music publicist whom the singer met when she was working in Paris.