Written by Jessica Letkemann • Photography by Getty Images • May 18, 2017
Update 5/18 at 2:11pm: Chris Cornell's death has been ruled a suicide by the medical examiner, according to the Associated Press.
Original Story: Chris Cornell, frontman of iconic Seattle group Soundgarden, has died at the age of 52, according to the Associated Press. He reportedly passed away in Detroit after a performance at the Fox Theater there. Cornell’s representative Brian Bumbery told the AP that the singer’s “sudden and unexpected” passing shocked his family, and that the medical examiner is determining the cause of death.
Cornell, who was also known for his stints fronting Audioslave and a robust solo career, rose to fame with Soundgarden in the late ‘80s as the band led the major wave of Seattle rock that dominated the charts in the early 90s. Born July 20, 1964, the singer with the muscular, almost operatic voice co-founded Soundgarden in 1984, and the band holds the distinction of being featured on one of the very first Sub Pop recordings. The group went on to become among the first of its peers to reach major label status.
Soundgarden’s breakthrough album came in 1991 with Badmotorfinger, which brought “Rusty Cage,” “Outshined” and “Jesus Christ Pose” to rock fans everywhere. But the group’s subsequent albums were even bigger: 1994’s massive Superunknown and 1996’s Down on the Upside reached No. 1 and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart respectively. Those albums served up hits that became rock classics, including "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell On Black Days" and "Blow Up The Outside World."
Cornell went on to Audioslave and solo success after Soundgarden broke up in 1997, but the band reformed in 2010 after a hiatus of 13 years, and has been headlining arenas and festivals ever since.
Cornell was on a Soundgarden tour of North America at the time of his passing. He had tweeted about the show just hours before his death:
Just a year and a half ago, Chris Cornell sat down with Live Nation TV to tell the stories behind how he wrote some of his favorite songs from his long and celebrated career. Watch that below.