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Family, Fans Mourn Soundgarden Frontman Chris Cornell

The 52-year-old was found dead in Detroit on Wednesday night

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chris Cornell and Soundgarden perform in Detroit on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Cornell was found dead hours after the performance ended.

    (Published Thursday, May 18, 2017)

    Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, was found dead on Wednesday night. Police said Thursday that the 52-year-old musician's death is being investigated as a possible suicide.

    Cornell, who had been on tour, died in Detroit, Cornell's representative Brian Bumbery said in a statement to the Associated Press. Cornell had performed a concert there with Soundgarden that night.

    Bumbery called the death "sudden and unexpected" and said Cornell's wife and family are in shock. The statement said the family would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause and have asked for privacy.

    Detroit police spokesman Michael Woody told the AP Thursday morning that he couldn't release details about why police are investigating the death as a possible suicide, but noted there were "basic things observed at the scene."

    Singer Chris Cornell Has Died at Age 52

    [NATL] Singer Chris Cornell Has Died at Age 52

    Rocker Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died at age 52, according to his representative. Cornell died in Detroit, where he was on tour.

    (Published Thursday, May 18, 2017)

    Cornell died at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel, Woody said. He said Cornell's wife had called a family friend and asked him to check on Cornell; the friend forced open a hotel room door and found Cornell on the bathroom floor.

    The Wayne County Medical Examiner's office will make an official determination about the cause of death. An autopsy is being conducted Thursday and some information from it is expected to be released later in the day, Wayne County spokeswoman Lisa Croff said.

    The frontman performed several solo shows in San Diego in recent years, including appearances at Humphreys in 2011, and at the Balboa Theatre in September 2012, 2013 and 2015, and at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in 2014.

    Local independent rock station 91x announced that they would be dedicating their midday hour to memorialize Cornell, tweeting, "... At noon the #91X family is going to come together on the air & play nothing but Chris Cornell for an hour at least."

    "We have lost another legend, a man whose words shaped peoples' lives," said SoundDiego contributor Tim Pyles, who also hosts the Loudspeaker show on 91x. "Chris Cornell captured the essence of being a great frontman and will be remembered as being one of the best. Hard to believe someone who seems to have had everything could be so tortured. Today I will hug many friends."

    News of Cornell's death prompted scores of tweets expressing sadness, including one from Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry: "Very sad news about Chris Cornell today. A sad loss of a great talent to the world, his friends and family. Rest In Peace."

    It was the same on social media around the San Diego music scene on Thursday morning as well. Timothy Joseph of FM 949's the Local 949 show, who is also the leader of the bands the Palace Ballroom and Buckfast Superbee, spoke for many fans in his Facebook post.


    "A lot of people focus on his voice, but to me I was most impressed with his songwriting," said Diamond Lakes bassist and SoundDiego associate editor Dustin Lothspeich, who reviewed the show at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in 2014. "If you look at how he structured songs, I mean, they're truly unique. It's a huge loss."

    Another voice from SoundDiego, Robin Roth of KFM-BFM, shared one of her favorite memories of Cornell: "I'll never forget seeing Soundgarden for the first time in December of 1989 at the Whiskey a Go Go. I had heard so much about the band and couldn't wait to check it out for myself. Needless to say, I was blown away by Chris Cornell's stage presence and fell in love with them. I've followed his career closely since then and am truly saddened at the loss of an amazing artist. R.I.P., Chris."

    Roth wasn't the only one remembering her first time seeing Soundgarden or, specifically, Cornell.

    "I was lucky enough to see Chris Cornell many times throughout his storied career: When Soundgarden absolutely destroyed Iguana's in Tijuana, when they opened for Guns n' Roses at the San Diego Sports Arena and when they played with Pearl Jam at the second installment of Lollapalooza and the two bands performed together as Temple of the Dog," remembered SoundDiego TV reporter Scott McDonald of Eight24.com. "But as with most things, you never forget your first. Chris Cornell was only 26 years old when I saw him the first time. Soundgarden had released their amazing 'Louder Than Love' LP the year before, and he took the stage that night looking much like he did on that album's cover: long hair, no shirt, combat boots. Only instead of jeans, he was wearing shorts covered in silver duct tape due to his propensity for stage diving. The band was support on Danzig's 1990 'Long Way Back From Hell' tour, and they played at UCSD's gym in September. I was transfixed. Cornell was an unbelievable showman and a bit of a shaman. He held every single person in rapt attention and seemed to have the ability to channel something otherworldly. The intense magic I witnessed that night never left me, and it went on to touch so many lives. It's an incredible shame that it's been cut short."

    With his powerful, nearly four-octave vocal range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s grunge movement with Soundgarden, which emerged as one of the biggest bands out of Seattle's emerging music scene, joining 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," which was released in 1991, spawned popular singles "Jesus Christ Pose," "Rusty Cage" and "Outshined" -- all of which received regular play on alternative rock radio stations.

    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 of 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. The album included the hit singles "Spoonman," ''Fell on Black Days," ''Black Hole Sun," ''My Wave" and "The Day I Tried to Live."

    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. The band released three albums in six years and also performed at a concert billed as Cuba's first outdoor rock concert by an American band, though some Cuban artists have disputed that claim. Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and released the band's sixth studio album, "King Animal" in 2012.

    Cornell also released four solo studio albums and a solo live album. He released the single "The Promise" in March on iTunes, with all proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development non-governmental organization.

    In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.