Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell took his own life at the age of 52, the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office has announced.
Cornell was found dead in his Detroit hotel bathroom on Wednesday night US time after playing a concert at the city’s famous Fox Theatre with the grunge band.
“The cause of death has been determined as suicide … A full autopsy report has not yet been completed,” the Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement after conducting an initial autopsy.
Family spokesman Brian Bumbery earlier described the death as “sudden and unexpected” and said the rocker’s wife and family were shocked by it.
A friend of Cornell’s forced his way into the hotel room and found Cornell dead in the bathroom with what was described only as “something around his neck”.
With his powerful, nearly four-octave range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s Seattle grunge movement, along with 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 the singles Jesus Christ Pose, Rusty Cage and Outshined.
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.
Stars pay tribute
Elton John, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and producer Nile Rodgers spoke of their loss following the star’s death, just hours after Soundgarden played a gig in Detroit.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) May 18, 2017
Page wrote: “RIP Chris Cornell. Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed.”
US rock musician Mark Lanegan, a contemporary from the Seattle grunge era, wrote simply: “RIP Chris Cornell. Damn.”
Rodgers described Cornell as “my special brother”.
He said in a statement to the Press Association that he could not process news of his death.
“I was asleep and my phone was jumping and one of our mutual friends – they were crying and bawling – and said ‘Nile you won’t believe this’ and he said ‘Chris is dead’, I said ‘Chris who?’
“Chris Cornell he’s like 12 years younger than me, he’s my friend and we’d go out together for dinner. We’d have dinner and laugh and joke and talk about the world,” Rodgers said.
Singer-songwriter Billy Idol tweeted: “Sad to hear of Chris Cornell passing, great singer and artist … another blow …RIP.”
SO SO stunned to hear about Chris Cornell! Such a terrible and sad loss! Thinking of his family tonight! RIP
— Dave Navarro (@DaveNavarro) May 18, 2017
Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 due to 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.
Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2012 and released the band’s sixth studio album, King Animal in 2012.
Cornell released five solo records and toured Australia in 2015 with a string of shows off the back of the album, Higher Truth.
He also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyondblue: 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
– with AAP