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UPDATE: Chris Cornell Dies, Suicide Suspected

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

UPDATE: Local 4 in Detroit is saying that Cornell’s death appears to be a suicide. Sources tell the station that his body was “found dead in the bathroom with something around his neck.”

Singer Chris Cornell, who rose to fame as the frontman for Soundgarden and a member of Temple of the Dog — and later fronted Audioslave in addition to pursuing a solo career — has passed away at the age of 52.

Cornell’s passing has been confirmed by a spokesperson, who described his death as “sudden and unexpected” and said his survivors were “working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.”

Born July 20, 1964 in Seattle, Cornell gravitated toward music in his pre-teen years, cutting his performance teeth in a cover band where he met guitarist Kim Thayil — who later formed part of the first Soundgarden lineup, which featured bassist Hiro Yamamoto and Cornell on vocals and drums. During this early period of shifting personnel, the group found its creative legs alongside an emerging wave of local talent, and was among the first of the so-called grunge bands to attract major label attention in the late ’80s.

Like many of their peers, Soundgarden enjoyed a huge surge in popularity during the early ’90s, scoring crossover hits like “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman” while enjoying multi-platinum sales for their albums Badmotorfinger (1991), Superunknown (1994), and Down on the Upside (1996). After the band’s 1997 breakup, Cornell pivoted into a solo career, releasing the Top 20 Euphoria Morning in 1999 before joining Audioslave, the all-star hard rock collective rounded out by Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk.

Cornell spoke openly about his struggles with depression and drug use, telling the Guardian in 2009 that while he was no stranger to illegal substance abuse, he didn’t truly come off his moorings until after Soundgarden split, after which he quipped he became a “pioneer” in using OxyContin to get high and ended up getting divorced and heading to rehab in the early aughts.

“It was the most difficult period of my life,” Cornell reflected. “I’m lucky I got through it.”

After getting sober, Cornell emerged with a new creative energy, reuniting with Soundgarden in 2010 while continuing to maintain his solo career. The fruits of their reunion were first heard in the form of a new song on the Telephantasm compilation that year, followed by a full-length studio album, King Animal, in 2012. Meanwhile, Cornell also participated in Temple of the Dog’s 2016 anniversary reunion, participating in tour dates to mark the 25th anniversary of their only LP.

At the time of his passing, Cornell was on tour with Soundgarden, and had been active on social media in the hours leading up to what would be his final show, at Detroit’s Fox Theater. While the band hasn’t released an official statement, their Facebook page’s most recent posting is a video tribute to their late lead singer.

Cornell is survived by his wife Vicky Karayiannis and their two children.

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