Chris Cornell was an American musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Seattle rock band Soundgarden and as lead vocalist and songwriter for the group Audioslave. He was also known for his numerous solo works and soundtrack contributions since 1991, and as founder and frontman for Temple of the Dog, the one-off tribute band dedicated to his late friend Andrew Wood.
Member of: Soundgarden · Audioslave · Temple of the Dog · M.A.C.C. · Alice Mudgarden
Mr. Cornell was one of four prominent frontmen — along with Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains — who brought Seattle’s sound to the national stage in the late 1980s and 1990s. He helped form Soundgarden in Seattle, where he was born, around 1984. Sub Pop, then a fledgling record label, released the group’s first single, “Hunted Down,” in 1987, as well as two subsequent EPs. The group’s debut album, “Ultramega OK,” which came a year later on the punk label SST, was its last release before it made the leap to a major label
Three of Soundgarden’s studio albums have been certified platinum, including “Superunknown,” from 1994, which featured the Grammy-winning songs “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman” as well as “Fell on Black Days” and “My Wave
When Pearl Jam was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last month, Mr. Esrailian said he told his friend that he belonged there as well: “He said, I don’t need that now, because I’ve got so much ahead of me.”
Mr. Esrailian produced the 2017 movie “The Promise,” about the Armenian genocide, for which Mr. Cornell wrote music and donated the proceeds from all audio downloads to help refugees. “He wanted his song to be an anthem about hope and perseverance for everyone,” he said.
Chris Cornell -The Promise
Listen to 10 Essential Chris Cornell Songs
‘Loud Love’ (1989)
From the very beginning, Mr. Cornell was a rich yelper, with a voice like a jagged growl. “Loud Love” was one of the standouts from the second Soundgarden album, “Louder Than Love.” Mr. Cornell’s performance is all muscle, like a weight lifter doing intense reps.
‘Hunger Strike’ (1990)
Here was grunge in all its majesty and dolor. Mr. Cornell traded lead vocals with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder on this ambitious and affecting hit from the supergroup Temple of the Dog. Mr. Cornell’s verse is lovely, but when he answers Mr. Vedder’s low groan with high wails at the chorus, it’s chilling.
‘Rusty Cage’ (1991)
The opening song from Soundgarden’s breakout album, “Badmotorfinger,” shows Mr. Cornell in a slightly more relaxed mode. Over earthy heavy metal riffs, he sings with seductive edge: “You wired me awake/And hit me with a hand of broken nails.”
Perhaps the first transcendent Soundgarden song, and one of the breakout moments for grunge, “Outshined” is crisp and elegant hard rock, and showcased Mr. Cornell at his most flexible, turning a brute force arrangement into a sort of dirty blues: “I just looked in the mirror/And things aren’t looking so good/I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota.”
On this lovely solo ballad from the soundtrack to the movie “Singles,” Mr. Cornell tempered agony with sweetness, hunger with reticence. “Dreams have never been the answer/And dreams have never made my bed,” he laments.
‘Black Hole Sun’ (1994)
Into every successful hard rock band’s oeuvre, a little balladry must fall. “Black Hole Sun” — oozy, shimmery and in moments unexpectedly bright — imported some psychedelic twists into Soundgarden’s stern muscle. It became the band’s biggest hit, thanks to one of Mr. Cornell’s signature vocal performances, which was arrestingly drowsy, topped off with a few fiercely controlled shrieks.
Ty Cobb’ (1996)
Among the most bruising songs in the Soundgarden discography, “Ty Cobb” is a relentless punk attack, featuring Mr. Cornell at his most snarling and reckless.
At his best, Mr. Cornell sounded like the loneliest howler, the last man at the end of a dusty road. “Burden in My Hand,” another of Soundgarden’s biggest hits, has elements of country-rock sprinkled throughout. Mr. Cornell sings as if he’s staggering: “Just a burden in my hand/Just an anchor on my heart/Just a tumor in my head.”
‘I Am the Highway’ (2002)
This is among the softer of the singles from the first album Mr. Cornell recorded as the frontman of Audioslave, the band he formed with members of Rage Against the Machine. And yet it is one of Mr. Cornell’s most harrowing vocal performances, full of rank desperation and insistent defiance: “I am not your rolling wheels, I am the highway/I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky.”
For his third solo album, Mr. Cornell teamed with Timbaland for an often-bizarre set of songs. Of these, “Ground Zero” was among the least perplexing. Timbaland provided high-energy stutter-disco, and Mr. Cornell eased into his role as a funk-rock crooner.
Chris Cornell – Before we disappear and Long Gone