Rocker Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died at age 52, according to his representative.
Cornell, who had been on tour, died Wednesday night in Detroit, Brian Bumbery said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Soundgarden played a concert at the Detroit’s Fox Theatre on Wednesday as part of a North American tour that had been scheduled to continue Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
Bumbery called the death “sudden and unexpected” and said his wife and family were shocked by it. The statement said the family would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause and asked for privacy.
Seattle grunge scene
With his powerful, nearly four-octave vocal range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s grunge movement with Soundgarden, which emerged as one of the biggest bands out of Seattle’s emerging music scene, joining the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
Formed in 1984 by Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, Soundgarden’s third studio album, Badmotorfinger, in 1991 spawned enormously popular singles Jesus Christ Pose, Rusty Cage and Outshined that received regular play on alternative rock radio stations.
Cornell also collaborated with members of what would become Pearl Jam to form Temple of the Dog, which produced a self-titled album in 1991 in tribute to friend Andrew Wood, former frontman for Mother Love Bone.
Three years later, Soundgarden broke through on mainstream radio with the album Superunknown, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Record in 1995. It included hit singles Spoonman, Fell on Black Days, Black Hole Sun, My Wave and The Day I Tried to Live.
On to Audioslave
Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 because of tensions in the band, and Cornell pursued a solo career. In 2001, he joined Audioslave, a supergroup that included former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford. The band released three albums in six years and also performed at a concert billed as Cuba’s first outdoor rock concert by an American band, though some Cuban artists have disputed that claim.
Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2012 and released the band’s sixth studio album, King Animal in 2012.
In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
His contemporaries reacted to his death with shock and surprise on Twitter early Thursday.
Gavin Rossdale, lead singer of the band Bush, called Cornell’s death a “great loss.”
Dave Navarro, best known as a guitarist for Jane’s Addiction, said he was “stunned” by the news.
And Jimmy Page, guitarist for the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, said of Cornell: “Incredibly talented.Incredibly young.Incredibly missed.”