LOS ANGELES (AP) – Rocker Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, has died at age 52, and police said yesterday that his death is being investigated as a possible suicide.
Cornell, who had been on tour, died Wednesday night in Detroit, Cornell’s representative Brian Bumbery said in a statement to The Associated Press. Cornell had performed a Detroit concert with Soundgarden that night.
Bumbery called the death “sudden and unexpected” and said his 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 AP yesterday 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”.
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.
News of Cornell’s death prompted scores of tweets expressing sadness. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry tweeted: “Very sad news about Chris Cornell today. A sad loss of a great talent to the world, his friends and family. Rest in peace.”
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”, in 1991 spawned popular singles “Rusty Cage” and “Outshined” that 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. It included hit singles “Spoonman”, ‘’Fell on Black Days”, “Black Hole Sun”, “My Wave” and “The Day I Tried to Live”.