The world of music is reeling today at the news of the untimely passing of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Cornell had an impressive musical career spanning four decades and three highly recognizable bands. He also enjoyed a productive solo career, releasing five albums under his own name.
Cornell was born in Seattle in 1964. In 1984 he founded Soundgarden alongside guitarist Kim Thayil, as they helped forge a new sound that would come to be known as grunge music alongside contemporaries such as Alice in Chains and Nirvana. When grunge blew up, Soundgarden blew up right along with it, becoming one of the most recognizable names in the genre. When their 1994 album Superunknown was released, it debuted in the number one spot on the Billboard 200.
Cornell was also a part of the early ‘90s grunge supergroup Temple of the Dog alongside members of Pearl Jam. Their only offering, a self-titled album from 1991, went platinum once Soundgarden and Pearl Jam blew up.
After the disbanding of Soundgarden, Cornell found himself in another supergroup. Audioslave consisted of the singer and everyone in Rage Against the Machine who wasn’t Zack de la Rocha. Audioslave introduced a whole new generation of fans to Cornell’s talents.
Cornell left Audioslave in 2007 to focus on a solo career that saw all of his full-length studio efforts crack the top 20 on the Billboard charts. By 2010 Soundgarden had reformed and were playing shows again to the delight of fans of heavy music the world over. This year also saw the first Audioslave show in 10 years.
In addition to being a pioneering musician, Cornell is also noted for his charity work, having founded the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation. The charity aims to raise awareness and mobilize support for children facing abuse, homelessness, and poverty. Cornell donated chunks of ticket sales to the foundation and was personally active in its running.
Cornell died on May 19th in Detroit at the age of 52 after a performance with Soundgarden. He leaves behind three children and a musical legacy few will ever match.