Chris Cornell 1964-2017
This news just destroys me. I remember thinking I was the coolest kid ever because I listened to Soundgarden and I knew of no one else who did in my little town. Chris Cornell’s voice was a huge part of my musical experience as a youth.
Chris Cornell’s Cause of Death Ruled As Suicide by Hanging: Medical Examiner https://t.co/P7ZzIa9ZGN
National Suicide Prevention Hotline [no phone numbers allowed] If you’re hurting, please ask for help. You deserve health and happiness. https://t.co/w7Z9DPB9fR
If there was one Seattle band of the “grunge” era that seemed more “Seattle” than any other, it was Soundgarden. Nirvana was actually from Aberdeen, and not a single member lived in Seattle until 1992; Pearl Jam didn’t become a band until Eddie Vedder arrived from San Diego. But Soundgarden was truly Seattle. Chris Cornell went to high school ten blocks from my house, though for accuracy, that’s just outside the Seattle city limits (and, for accuracy, he dropped out of that high school).
Soundgarden also started before all those bands. The Screaming Life EP, which came out on Sub Pop on October 1, 1987, beat all those other bands to the punch. I was editor of the Seattle music magazine The Rocket in those days, and we were the first place to publish on Soundgarden, putting them on our cover when they were playing to just twenty people. That was probably appropriate, in that our magazine was located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle (now dominated by Amazon), which was low-rent and filled with taverns. Soundgarden made one of these, the Ditto Tavern, one of their homes. Seeing them there early on, you had the sense they truly had something, but there honestly would be only a dozen people in the audience.
Cornell, however, had a singing voice that sounded like stardom. We once put him on the cover of the The Rocket and headlined it “Golden Throats.” During a photo shoot for another cover story we had the members of Soundgarden stand in Green Lake covered with mud, an homage to Mudhoney (another Seattle band in that era still trying to find an audience). Soundgarden was a slow burn, and nowhere near an overnight success. The band was on three record labels before it broke, and its biggest year was 1994, after Kurt Cobain died and when many saw the Seattle scene ebbing. But Superunknown was a record that could not be denied, and “Fell On Black Days” may be my favorite vocal of that entire era.
Rest in peace, dude.