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Music biz pays tribute to Chris Cornell

The late singer, who passed away last night aged 52, has been hailed as "an amazing voice, musician and man" by just one of the many venues he played over three decades

By Jon Chapple on 18 May 2017

Chris Cornell, Josh Jensen

Cornell pictured in 2011

image © Josh Jensen

Chris Cornell, the multi-octaved grunge pioneer who won frame fronting Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died aged 52.

Cornell, who had been touring North America with Soundgarden, passed away last night after a show at the Fox Theatre (5,174-cap.) in Detroit.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the singer’s publicist, Brian Bumbery calls the death “sudden and unexpected” and says Cornell’s wife and family are in shock. He adds that the family would be “working closely with the medical examiner” to determine the cause.

With his gritty, nearly four-octave vocal range and songwriting that centred on unconventional, non-diatonic chord sequences, Cornell’s Soundgarden helped define the ’90s grunge sound along with bands such as Nirvana, the Melvins, Alice and Chains and Pearl Jam.

Following the 1997 dissolution of Soundgarden – who by then had scored two №1 albums with 1994’s Superunknown and 1996’s Down on the Upside – Cornell formed Audioslave, a supergroup also comprising Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.

He later reformed Soundgarden after a successful solo career, the commercial highlight of which was top-five hit ‘You Know My Name’, the theme song to 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.

Networking Music’s Ruud Berends, who with Paperclip Agency booked Soundgarden’s first European shows, expresses his “shock and surprise” at Cornell’s passing. “He was only 52… nobody was expecting it,” he comments.

“I can’t even begin to explain how much I’m going to miss his music”

Devraj Sanyal, the managing director of Universal Music Group in South Asia, says he “can’t even begin to explain how much I’m [going to] miss his music. I’m shattered and I’m heartbroken.”

Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of Grammys organiser The Recording Academy, says: “Chris’s extraordinary talent will forever live on and inspire fellow musicians and fans worldwide. We have lost an innovative member of our creative community, and our sincerest condolences go out to Chris’s family, friends, collaborators and all who have been impacted by his outstanding artistry.”

Several venues and festivals have also paid tribute to Cornell on social media. The Royal Albert Hall calls his debut solo show at the venue “one of our stand-out nights of 2016”, while AEG’s BST Hyde Park says Cornell “truly had one of the finest voices in rock and he will be deeply missed”. Live Nation Belgium’s Rock Werchter, meanwhile, expresses its sadness that “an amazing voice, musician, man is gone”.

As have several musicians: Jane Addiction’s Dave Navarro calls Cornell’s passing a “terrible and sad loss”, while Jimmy Page describes the late singer as an “incredible talent, incredibly young [and] incredibly missed”. Billy Idol says he was “sad to hear of Chris Cornell’s passing”, calling him a “great singer and artist”.


This article will be updated with comments from more industry figures as we receive them.


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