We’re sad to report that 2017 has taken another music icon in the form of Chris Cornell, who has passed away at the age of just 52.
Cornell’s representative Brian Bumbery said his death was “sudden and unexpected” – indeed, he was currently on tour and due to play a show in Columbus on Friday night. A medical examiner confirmed on Thursday that the singer had committed suicide by hanging himself in his Detroit hotel room.
There is no doubt that Cornell possessed one of the all-time great rock voices, finding fame first as a member of iconic Seattle grunge act Soundgarden, who formed in 1984, but did not find widespread fame until the genre went overground in the early nineties, particularly with their 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at number one on the Billboard chart. However, the band split in 1997.
Cornell then teamed up with three members of Rage Against The Machine to form Audioslave, who released their acclaimed self-titled debut in 2002, before going on to release two more albums. However, they split in 2007, with both Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden reforming – the latter in 2010, with a sixth album, King Animal, coming out in 2012.
Between 1999 and 2015, Cornell also released four solo albums, and famously performed the theme song to Bond film Casino Royale, ‘You Know My Name’ in 2006. He was also the founder and frontman of cult supergroup Temple of the Dog, a tribute band dedicated to his late friend Andrew Wood.
As ever, the one good thing to come out of an icon’s death: a chance to dig out, and enjoy the amazing music left behind. So let’s waste no more time.
Soundgarden – ‘Black Hole Sun’
If you were a teenager and alive in the nineties, and you’ve never seen this video, then we don’t believe you. An incredibly strange and evocative song, with that famously trippy video, it showcased the brilliant vocal abilities of Cornell perfectly.
Audioslave – ‘Cochise’
When it was revealed that Cornell and three-quarters of Rage Against The Machine had formed a band, speculation was intense about what it would sound like and whether it would work; supergroups were notoriously hit and miss. Within 30 seconds of watching this video, all fears were quelled, as Cornell’s staggeringly powerful vocals fitted like a glove over a Rage-style groove, together with an incredible firework-laden video that led to people ringing up police with talk of an alien invasion.
Chris Cornell – ‘You Know My Name’
Cornell was not necessarily the most obvious choice to sing a Bond theme, but he did it proud with yet another example of his seemingly-effortless brilliance.
Soundgarden – ‘Spoonman’
The first song released from Superunknown, this is arguably the song that catapulted Soundgarden into the public consciousness. Still a thrilling listen 23 years on.
Audioslave – ‘Show Me How To Live’
The second of a double whammy of tracks that opened up Audioslave’s debut album, this track was an incredible showcase for the dynamic and melodic range of Cornell’s vocals, from that cat-like purr that opens things up, to his loungey verse vocals, to that full-blooded roar of a chorus, and that outro.
Chris Cornell – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
This stunning live session track, recorded in September 2015, went viral following the death of its writer, Prince, last year, and for good reason. It’s truly breathtaking hearing such a great song in the hands of one of rock’s all-time great voices.