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SOUNDGARDEN Frontman Chris Cornell: Cause Of Death Determined Suicide By Hanging
May 18th, 2017

Chris Cornell, vocalist of Seattle, Washington-based rock group Soundgarden, died on the evening of May 17th, 2017 at the age of 52.

On the evening of May 17th, Soundgarden had performed at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan.

Shortly after midnight EST, Detroit Police received a telephone call.

A family friend had visited the MGM Grand Detroit hotel to check on Cornell, and observed him on the bathroom floor. Consequently, the police’s medical unit were called. The frontman was pronounced dead at the scene, his body transferred to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, where the cause of death was determined as hanging by suicide following an initial examination. A full autopsy report has not yet been completed.

Christopher John Boyle was born on July 20th, 1964 in Seattle to parents Ed Boyle and Karen Cornell, who were a pharmacist and an accountant respectively. He had two brothers, and three sisters. Following the divorce of his parents, Boyle adopted his mother’s maiden name.

Cornell took piano and guitar lessons, eventually finding his way behind the drumkit, occupying the position in an early incarnation of Soundgarden. Soundgarden formed in 1984; after Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto having played together as part of a collective dubbed the Shemps, guitarist Kim Thayil was invited to perform with them. The moniker Soundgarden was chosen in tribute to a public organ-pipe sculpture which created sounds in the wind.

Drummer Scott Sundquist arrived a year later in 1985, Cornell moving to performing vocals and rhythm guitar duties permanently. Three cuts were included on the 1986 compilation Deep Six, which additionally featured the Melvins and Green River (the latter containing future members of both Pearl Jam and Mudhoney). Debut single ‘Hunted Down’ emerged in 1987, as well as debut EP Screaming Life.

1988 EP Fopp sported an Ohio Players cover rendition as its title track, and marked the arrival of drummer Matt Cameron. Inaugural full-length platter Ultramega OK surfacing in October 1988 via SST. Less than a year later, second studio full-length affair Louder Than Love emerged in September 1989 through A&M Records.

Former roommate Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose on March 19th, 1990, the vocalist of Mother Love Bone – a lone studio affair being issued posthumously in July of that year. The tunes ‘Reach Down’ and ‘Say Hello 2 Heaven’ were penned in tribute, Cornell asking Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard (rhythm guitars) and Jeff Ament (bass) if they would record the aforementioned tracks with him. Temple Of The Dog was resultantly formed, rounded out by local guitarist Mike McCready, a then unknown vocalist in the form of Eddie Vedder and Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron. A lone self-titled jaunt was released in April 1991, its members sans Soundgarden personnel re-emerging as Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam’s debut Ten surfacing four months later in August. Temple Of The Dog reunited in 2016, for touring purposes.

Bassist Hiro Yamamoto had exited the Soundgarden fold in 1989, Ben Shepherd replacing the four-stringer. October 1991 LP Badmotorfinger sported the single ‘Jesus Christ Pose’, which was banned by MTV, as well as the tracks ‘Outshined’ and ‘Rusty Cage’ – the latter of which was later covered by Johnny Cash. A double-platinum affair, its success was bettered by March 1994 follow-up Superunknown; certified five times platinum, the album charted at position one on the Billboard 200, and at position four in the UK. The likes of ‘Black Hole Sun’, ‘Spoonman’, ‘The Day I Tried To Live’, ‘My Wave’, and ‘Fell On Black Days’ were key cuts.

Charting at position two on the Billboard 200, fifth studio proper Down On The Upside was issued in May 1996. On April 9th, 1997, it was confirmed Soundgarden would disband. Greatest hits compilation A-Sides contained the outtake ‘Bleed Together’, the record itself being released in November of that year.

Soundgarden’s reunion was confirmed by Cornell on January 1st, 2010, sixth and final studio album King Animal coming in November 2012. A seventh outing was in the midst of being recorded at the time of Cornell’s death.

As a solo musician, Cornell issued four full-length studio albums, namely; Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), and Higher Truth (2015). All four entered the top 20 of the Billboard 200 chart. The track ‘You Know My Name’ was co-written with David Arnold, and used as the theme track to 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale.

Rock supergroup Audioslave was formed in 2001, consisting of Cornell on lead vocals, together with Rage Against The Machine members Tom Morello (guitars), Tim Commerford (bass) and Brad Wilk (drums). A self-titled November 2002 debut was followed by May 2005 offering Out Of Exile, which charted at position one on the Billboard 200 – Rick Rubin having produced both. Brendan O’ Brien stepped in the production chair for third studio affair and swansong Revelations, issued in September 2006. Audioslave’s disbandment was confirmed in 2007. On January 20th, 2017, the Inauguration Day for President Donald Trump, Audioslave performed a one-off concert at the Anti-Inaugural Ball at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, California in protest.

At the time of his passing, Cornell was married to Vicky Karayiannis. The two share a daughter (Toni) and son (Christopher), born in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Cornell was previously married to Susan Silver, who managed Soundgarden and Alice In Chains at one point. The pair share a daughter, Lillian Jean, born in 2000.

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