Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Dead at 52

From “Black Hole Sun” to “You Know My Name” (the theme song to James Bond’s Casino Royale), Chris Cornell’s voice was distinctive, powerful and gritty. Sadly, it has been silenced. Brian Bumbery, a representative for Mr. Cornell, said his death was “sudden and unexpected.” The singer’s family will be working with the medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

As the frontman for Soundgarden, the band gained attention in the early 1990s, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, with popularizing grunge music. Their best-selling album was 1994’s Superunknown, which included hit singles “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black Days,” and “Spoonman.”

Soundgarden would disband three years later, and Cornell would become the frontman for rock supergroup Audioslave in 2001, which included him and Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass/backing vocals), and Brad Wilk (drums).

Chris Cornell would mend ties with his original band in 2010 and they would release their first studio album in 16 years with 2012’s King Animal.

Soundgarden played Detroit’s Fox Theater Wednesday night and were slated to perform at the Rock on the Range festival Friday in Columbus, OH.

Cornell was active on social media late Wednesday, as a clip of the group’s 2012 release “By Crooked Steps” was posted to his official Facebook page hours before his death.

Chris Cornell has stated in interviews his struggles with drug use throughout his life. When Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, Cornell relapsed and returned to heavy drug use, including abusing OxyContin (which he admitted to The Guardian in 1999).

Outside of performing with Soundgarden and Audioslave, Chris Cornell has five solo albums to his credit and has performed with the supergroup Temple of the Dog, which includes members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The group is a tribute to Andrew Wood, the lead singer of the Seattle bands Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, who died in March 1990 of a heroin overdose.

Speaking to The New York Times, Cornell said the group had decided to finally bring its songs to life to honor Wood. “I thought, well, this is one thing that I can do to remind myself and maybe other people of who this guy is and was and keep his story and in a way his life with us,” he said.

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