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CHRIS CORNELL,
1964-2017

Chris Cornell, whose forceful vocals filled with wails and growls powered Soundgarden, a crucial component of the early Seattle grunge scene, died Wednesday night after a performance in Detroit. He was 52.

Cornell’s death was “sudden and unexpected,” according to a spokesman’s statement.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office posted on its website today, “The cause of death has been determined as hanging by suicide. A full autopsy report has not yet been completed. There is no additional information at this time.”

Cornell formed Soundgarden in 1984 with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, bringing in drummer Matt Cameron in 1986. After recording for Sub Pop and SST, they signed with A&M, becoming one of the first major label acts to emerge from the nascent Seattle scene.

More than any other act of its time, Soundgarden deftly combined the riff-oriented styles of heavy metal progenitors such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with the power of punk rock with side trips in psychedelia. As its lead signer, Cornell  tapped the blues and R&B styles that influenced the likes of Robert Plant to give Soundgarden a unique soulfulness that stood apart from other '80s hard rock bands.

While their A&M debut, Louder Than Love, never cracked the Top 100, the track “Ultramega OK” earned a Grammy nomination for best metal performance.

Cornell and the band would win their two Grammy Awards for tracks from their breakthrough album Superunknown, a #1 album in 1994. Kurt Cobain’s suicide that year put a pall on the city, though rock fans across the nation put the city’s Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam atop the hard rock mainstream in popularity.

A statement from UMG chief Sir Lucian Grainge reads: "We mourn the loss of Chris Cornell, one of the most powerful, emotive and influential vocalists of his generation. His distinctive voice and music molded a sound that defined a decade, and influences artists to this day. The world has lost a great one—all too soon. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones."

 “A two-time Grammy Award winner, Chris’ dynamic stage presence and impressive vocal range made him a true rock-and-roll icon,” Neil Portnow, President/CEO, The Recording Academy, said. “Chris’ extraordinary talent will forever live on and inspire fellow musicians and fans worldwide. We have lost an innovative member of our creative community, and our sincerest condolences go out to Chris’ family, friends, collaborators, and all who have been impacted by his outstanding artistry.”  

"It's important now to keep thoughts of Chris positive," reads a note from Heart's Ann Wilson. "He is on his way. We loved him well, now wish him well on his journey. He was and is a beautiful soul."

Added her sister and bandmate Nancy Wilson: "No one is ever prepared to hear about a death in the family. And today Chris Cornell my brother from my Seattle music family is gone. I thought his voice would forever grace the world of music. Devastating."

Soundgarden broke up in 1997, reuniting in 2010 and performing regularly ever since. Soundgarden was scheduled to perform Friday at the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. In 2012, they released King Animal on Republic/Seven Star, their first album since 1996’s Down on the Upside.

Between 1999 and 2015 Cornell released five solo albums, four of which went Top 20. In 2001, he formed Audioslave with members of Rage Against the Machine; all of three of their albums went Top 10. The group disbanded in 2007

Late last year, Cornell sang lead for Temple of the Dog, a touring tribute to Andrew Wood, the late lead singer of Mother Love Bone.