Chris Cornell, Dead of Suicide, Was Guiding Force in Grunge Music

Chris Cornell, the Seattle-born rock guitarist who killed himself after a Wednesday concert in Detroit, was a central figure in the 1990s grunge movement and had been one of its most enduring stars.

His death at 52 was ruled a suicide by hanging, the Wayne County, Michigan medical examiner said Thursday.

For fans, the tragedy marked a sort of a bookend to the 1994 suicide of Kurt Cobain, grunge’s king.

Cornell was the frontman for Soundgarden, which formed in 1984 and was the first of the Northwest grunge bands to break into the mainstream in the early 1990s.

Its 1991 release “Badmotorfinger” introduced the mainstream public to grunge’s punk-meets-metal formula: angst-ridden vocals, heavy guitars, long hair, flannel. Cornell started out as a drummer and played some guitar, but his soaring four-octave voice was Soundgarden’s key ingredient.

For those of you who never listened to Soundgarden, here are some favorites: 

Cornell was a magnetic force in the early 1990s Seattle rock scene, organizing a tribute for his close friend, a local singer named Andrew Wood who had died of a heroin overdose. The project, Temple of the Dog, brought together members of Wood’s band and a newcomer to Seattle, Eddie Vedder, who soon after joined Pearl Jam. Cornell sang lead vocals on Temple of the Dog’s hit “Hunger Strike.”

Because Soundgarden was at the forefront of the genre ─ the Sub Pop label was formed partially to produce the band’s earliest music ─ Cornell was seen as one of…

Read more