RIP Chris Cornell

photo by Dave Lichterman

You read that right. We’re just as surprised to learn of his passing as you are. Chris Cornell, who was found dead in his Detroit hotel room late last night, has been a Seattle institution for decades, having formed Soundgarden in 1984 and predating in popularity nearly all of the so-called “grunge” bands around them. In many ways Soundgarden sounded like no other, but their singularity was mostly due to Cornell’s astounding vocal range and immediately identifiable and defiant shriek. We don’t yet know the cause of the beloved musician’s passing in Detroit last night, but we do know that he and his music will remain an indelible part of our local pride. As we await more news on his tragic loss*, here are a few reminders of why Chris Cornell will always remain not just in our hearts but pumping through our veins. Chris, we’re devastated to say this to you now, but “Say Hello 2 Heaven”:

[ *UPDATE 11:00 AM PST: We have since learned that Cornell‘s cause of death has been ruled as suicide by hanging, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. If you, or someone you know, are in need of someone to talk to, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You are not alone. ]

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  1. Reggie
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Very sad day for us in Michigan! Me and my college buddies from Michigan State University spent a summer in Seattle in 1994 and Soundgarden was what drew us together and is the reason we spent that awesome summer there! With Chris’s passing, it has drawn us all together once again. We are in different places all over the country now but we have all reconnected today to remember that summer.
    Sorry for your loss Seattle!

  2. DeeDee
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I’m so saddened by this passing. What a talent, what a voice, what an era! So many lead singers of our Seattle music history. Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and now Soundgarden. I know there are more Seattle bands and singers from that era that are still with us, but what a tragic trend.

    I know this is a longshot, but if you could play Ave Maria by Chris Cornell, it would be so very touching.

    Thank you for the morning tribute! It’s perfect! I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else today, KEXP always gets it right.

  3. Rob
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I am so sad and somehow this one hurts more then all the other ones that have left. Maybe because he is only one year younger then me I don’t know.
    I am devastated.


  4. Shanon Johnson
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Chris Cornell helped cement in my mind the absolute power of live music.

    I have a very vivid memory of being a teenager, sitting on the back deck of my parents house and listening with awe to Black Hole Sun. It felt like something I had never heard before. I have always loved that song, but never thought I would see it live.

    I was lucky enough to be able to go to the 2014 Bridge School Benefit show. Pearl Jam was playing and I was thrilled. I love them. I was excited to see Soundgarden, but had no idea how hearing their music live would affect me. I started crying when I heard Black Hole Sun.

    I cried again when Chris and Eddie Vedder teamed up for a live version of Hunger Strike. A dream come to true for this Seattle girl to see live.

    I will always, always remember that.

    RIP Chris Cornelll

  5. Susan McGinnis
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Obviously I didn’t know him. But his music has been a significant part of my life. Anyone who knows me knows Soundgarden is a staple in my music library. In my old job, me & the guys I worked with would put Badmotorfinger on a loop some days while we were setting up or tearing down for a shoot. Even years before that, on good days I’d play them loud, and on dark days I’d play them louder. His voice was epic. A legendary part of the Seattle scene. I was fortunate enough to see them a few times, but the first show I saw was in Chicago, and is definitely one of the best concerts I’ve been to. I’ll forever picture him, guitar hanging low, foot up on the monitor, screaming through those powerful pipes the lyrics that I’m now hearing so differently.
    I’m sad that we lost such an amazing talent.
    I’m sad that the music we have now, is all we will get.

    But what saddens me the most, is that he was so sad.

  6. JD
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    In 1992 I flew from Miami to Seattle to visit a friend… AND to specifically see Lollapalooza (already a fan of SoundGarden) at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton. The Cherry on top to my visit was that amazing collage of artists! I still fully remember my muddy boots and Chris Cornell wailing out Slaves and Bulldozers… gives me chills til this day!! I moved to Seattle immediately and 25 years later, I’m still here.
    I was very fortunate to be in Seattle during those early 90’s… seeing the ‘famous’ faces around RkCndy, Off Ramp, Crocodile, Colourbox … listening to Chris’ new music as the years passed. One day in West Seattle in ’94 I was at a video store, cruising down an aisle, passing a cute guy with amazing eyes and a beautiful smile…. It wasn’t until I passed Chris…. that I recognized him. Then I thought “wow, what a powerful smile”!
    I am so grateful for albums, tapes, CD’s and videos…. Let the memories never Fade!
    Thank You KEXP!

  7. Darren Nordlie
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I first heard Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” as the opener to a Playstation video game called “Road Rash” as a child. I was immediately pumped up and started researching their other songs. The banshee-like wailing of my Chris Cornell stuck with my younger sister and I and from that day I vowed to see him live when I was old enough.

    I finally got my wish in college to check out AudioSlave in concert. It was one of my first concerts and it has since set the bar very high. Chris sounded amazing after all the years of smoking as he screamed his way through Rage Against the Machine (a tough act to cover Zack de la Rocha), Soundgarden classics and Audioslave tracks.

    It is so sad to loose such an iconic trailblazer in the already thin rock landscape lost a giant and one of the great vocalists of any genre. RIP Chris and if there is a heaven, hope you are saying hello to it now and forever.

  8. Megan
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Our first couple days living in Seattle were scary. Moving thousands of miles from anyone we knew, exploring a city I had never been to but had always wanted to be apart of. A lot of anxiety that week. But then on the third day exploring downtown I could hear Chris Cornell playing live from the stadium. And that’s when the flood of childhood memories of loving the Seattle music scene so much I wanted to move here. So thankful that I can raise my kids in a city that I dreamed about as a kid staring at my wall of grunge rockers I adored. Thanks for making that moment for me dude that’s when I knew I was home. 😓

  9. Chris Fontecchio
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Chris Corness said something to Rolling Stone about how “grunge” was something of a fashion built up in part around their musical expressions of real loss. As someone who has not suffered (so far) from depression, heroin addiction, or any other serious issue, knock on wood, I definitely feel a bit of voyeurism in wallowing in these strangers’ grief by listening to their music as intently as I have over the years. Mind you, I think he was talking more about people who just bought flannel shirts and didn’t really listen to what they were expressing. But I’m privileged to hear this and feel these incredibly powerful emotions without being destroyed by them, as a lot of the artists themselves were. As ever, you gotta pay your dues to sing the blues.

  10. Lisa Wood
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    My heart is so heavy today. For Chris’ family, for his band mates, for the community I love so dearly that I know is hurting so much. Soundgarden meant so much to me as a kid in the suburbs, graduating from school, not knowing what was next. Because of them I uncovered the layers and layers of bands that had brought them to the forefront. Tracing their lineage led to my discovery of the amazing music coming from our city and my want to delve into radio. I did and it led me to interviewing Chris a few times. He was a beautiful human being.

    My brother took his own life 2 years ago and there are no words to describe the pain that this brings upon a family and a community. Today is heavy, today is hard.

    Thank you for the all day tribute. You guys and the Seattle music community will forever hold a very special place in my heart. Big, big hugs to you all. We grieve together as one big family.


  11. Kevin T.
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Strong Are Your Bones…a huge statement to me that you can do ANYTHING! CC is a legend and a true example of a man of stature and continuous reinvention. To me, his lyrics opened up “the box” to let me know that I am not alone in feelings of despair and being estranged from the world. It opened my mind to perceive the world as a delicate balancing act. “Alive in the Superunknown…” is one of many songs that slapped me in the face. Not only did the lyrics speak volumes, but the intensity of the song pulled me closer to the speakers to hear his heartbeat. I mourn with you, Seattle, from Colorado. As we all do all around the world. The pulse is strong and will never be let go.

    If this doesn’t make you smile
    Yea, you don’t have to cry
    If this isn’t making sense
    Yea, it doesn’t make it lies

  12. Danny
    Posted June 2, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I’ve written alot about Chris. Still in shock that he is really gone.

  13. Kirk Reed
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Still 3 weeks later completely fuckin devastated about the Rock God s passing!

  14. todd kimball
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Heads up that has partnered up with to pay tribute to Chris Cornell. Share the love for Chris. Here is the link:

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