Chris Cornell, who formed Soundgarden in 1984 and later fronted Audioslave, has died at the age of 52. In a statement to Associated Press his representative, Brian Bumbery, called the death "sudden and unexpected." According to the AP, Detroit police say Cornell's death is being investigated as a possible suicide. Cornell had been touring with Soundgarden with more dates lined up for the rest of the month. He was tweeting about the shows just hours before his death on Wednesday night in Detroit.
You may remember Cornell for Soundgarden, their pioneering influence on the Seattle music scene in the 80s and 90s and becoming first grunge band to sign to a major label. You may remember him as the driving energy of supergroup Audioslave and being the only vocalist who isn't Zack de la Rocha with the force to match whatever madness Tom Morello was performing on guitar. Or, you may remember him for providing the theme for Casino Royale and thereby shifting its tradition from "epic ballad" to "high-powered rock smasher." Whatever your association, press play and turn it up loud.
As has been the case with many of the music icons we have lost over the last two years in particular, there is no one or easy way to capture Cornell's legacy. A proper obituary will follow soon.
Update Thursday, May 18, 1:45 PM EST: The medical examiner has confirmed suicide by hanging as the cause of death. We will continue to update this story as more news becomes available.
Update Friday, May 19, 9:15 AM EST: Cornell's family and attorney Kirk Pasich have both responded to the Wayne County medical examiner's ruling. "The family believes that if Chris took his life," read Pasich's statement, "he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions."
In a separate statement, Cornell's wife, Vicky Cornell, said that the prescription drug Ativan may have had a role in Cornell's death. Read her statement in full below:
Chris's death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend. His world revolved around his family first and of course, his music, second. He flew home for Mother's Day to spend time with our family. He flew out mid-day Wednesday, the day of the show, after spending time with the children. When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do. When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him. What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.
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