Grunge icon Chris Cornell of Soundgarden dies at 52

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Soundgarden | photo by Joe del Tufo

Singer-guitarist and songwriter Chris Cornell, leader of iconic grunge band Soundgarden — as well as a member of the Seattle supergroup Temple of the Dog and the aughties project Audioslave — passed away last night at his home in Detroit. He was 52 years old.

According to NPR, Cornell’s representative Brian Bumbery had this to say:

His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause. They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.

Cornell co-founded Soundgarden in 1984 with guitarist Kim Thayil and Bassist Hiro Yamamoto and took the band from an aggressive, punk-fueled grunge sound on records like Ultramega OK and Louder than Love to resplendent, psychedelic infused rock in the 90s on Superunknown and Down On The Upside. His singular vocal delivery soared into upper-register high-notes, but came across gritty and raw, a thrilling combination with whatever style Soundgarden was tackling. Their hit “Rusty Cage” from 1992’s Badmotorfinger was even covered by Johnny Cash.

Soundgarden | photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/

In 1990, Cornell and bandmate Matt Cameron teamed up with Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, formerly of Mother Love Bone, to pay tribute to the late MLB singer Andrew Wood. Ament and Gossard were also in the early stages of launching Pearl Jam, and by the time Temple of the Dog broke with it’s classic “Hunger Strike,” it was a bonafide supergroup — though it would be another 25 years before the band played its first show, at the Tower Theater in Philly.

In the early aughts, Cornell launched another collaborative project, Audioslave, with guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine; they released three albums between 2002 and 2006. Cornell also released five solo LPs, most recently 2015’s Higher Truth.

Cornell was on tour with Soundgarden at the time of his death, and had played a show last night at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Watch a performance of “Rusty Cage” from that show below, and revisit our photo recaps of Soundgarden gigs with Nine Inch Nails at the BB&T Pavillion by Joe Del Tufo and at the Tower Theater in 2013, by Eric Ashleigh.

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