According to Detroit police, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell died late Wednesday night at the age of 52. Cornell’s publicist said in a statement: “His wife, Vicky, and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing,” especially given Cornell had performed a show with Soundgarden earlier in the day. Police say that they received a 911 call from a family friend around midnight after the friend found Cornell “unresponsive laying on the bathroom floor” of a hotel room. The police have not ruled out suicide, but they will wait to determine an official cause of death until a medical examiner issues a report, expected to be completed some time Thursday afternoon.
Cornell formed Soundgarden with bassist Hiro Yamamoto, guitarist Kim Thayil and drummer Scott Sundquist in 1984. In their 1980s roots, they began crafting the sound that would later become one of the foundations of the grunge scene that came into the mainstream in the early 1990s. In 1990, when a former roommate of Cornell died of a heroin overdose, he rounded up local Seattle musicians to perform a one-off album dedicated to his friend, which ended up being the lone production of the grunge supergroup Temple of the Dog. In this endeavor, he united Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder, who would later go on to form one of the greatest grunge bands of all time, Pearl Jam. In 1994, Cornell and Soundgarden released Superunknown, which ended up being their first number one album and the source of their biggest mainstream hit, “Black Hole Sun”. He would also go on to form another supergroup with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello which became Audioslave. That group kept Cornell for two albums before he embarked on a solo career. He reunited with Soundgarden in 2010 and continued performing with them until his death.