Chris Cornell (1964-2017)

"The sky was your playground, but the cold ground is your bed"

Chris Cornell is an icon — a pioneer of the last great Rock n Roll movement who also happened to have the voice of a golden god. Sadly, today the world lost this titan of music, leaving behind a legacy that spans both the music and film world we know and love.

With Soundgarden, Cornell forged the path that bands like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana used to catapult into superstardom. Albums such as Ultramega OK, Louder than LoveBadmotorfinger, Superunknown, and Down on the Upside blended the crunching riffs of Black Sabbath with the swagger of Led Zeppelin and the kaleidoscopic lyrical poetry of the latter day Beatles. It was Cornell’s voice, however, that remained the cornerstone of what elevated Soundgarden above their contemporaries. A combination of the range of Freddie Mercury and the gruff of James Hetfield with the soulfulness of Cat Stevens and Joe Cocker. Cornell’s voice had a type of je ne sais quoi that caused him to stand alone in the ever-changing sound of the 80’s and 90’s.

Cornell’s impact wasn’t solely in the musical realm. He was a huge influence and contributor to the success of the Singles soundtrack, one of the great film soundtracks of all time (as well as providing a cameo in the film). Cornell also was tapped to contribute the introduction song to the rebooted Bond franchise, writing and performing “You Know My Name” for the 2006 film Casino Royale. The song’s melodies formed the basis for the themes of the film’s score, and the song itself planted the seeds for what is rightfully considered the greatest Bond film of all time. Cornell, reunited with Soundgarden, also provided “Live to Rise” which was used as the credits song for Marvel’s The Avengers — one of the five highest grossing films of all time.

As we say goodbye to one of the last great rock icons, I’ll use his tribute to friend and fellow grunge pioneer Andrew Wood to eulogize Cornell:

I never wanted
To write these words down for you…

There´s just one thing left to be said
Say hello to heaven

  • I wouldn’t say that I was ever a fan, exactly, except by default as part of the college-going generation in the early 1990s – his voice lit up our social lives, along with Alice, Nirvana etc. The pain here feels quite personal: Gen X, the fuckup generation, is even fucking up growing old and dying in our sleep. “Our” musicians dying off en masse plays to my cohort like a personal affront to our continued existence. I know this sounds a little bananas but this really is the first wave of our confrontation with death writ large, and it’s fucking gross.

  • ryanrochnroll

    Wonderful writeup.
    Cornell was a pioneer. The fact that he started as the drummer and vocalist in Soundgarden is a fact that never fails to impress me. That is some impressive shit when you have to devote as much effort and focus to either task as you do, and as he did.

    Cornell was an early icon for me. He helped shape the way I think about music. He’ll be missed.

  • I loved Soundgarden back in the day. This is so sad. Looks like AP is reporting that he hung himself.