Chris Cornell passes away: The Soundgarden, Audioslave rocker's best songs
Chris Cornell — the lead singer of the rock band Soundgarden and later, Audioslave — has passed away aged 52.
In a statement to the Associated Press, his representative Brian Bumbery said Cornell died Wednesday night (17 May 2017) in Detroit.
Cornell was still active on the rock music scene and was excitedly talking about his Soundgarden concert before he passed away tragically on 17 May.
— Chris Cornell (@chriscornell) May 18, 2017
His band Soundgarden was part of the grunge scene of the late 1980s and 1990s and won two Grammy Awards for the songs 'Black Hole Sun' and 'Spoonman'. Cornell formed Audioslave in 2001 with Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello and Tim Commerford, which was also a huge success. Critics had labeled their sound as a mix of Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden.
Out of Soundgarden, Audioslave and Cornell's career as a solo performer, here are some of the songs he will be most remembered for:
'You Know My Name' from Casino Royale
Chris Cornell introduced the new Bond to the world with the opening theme of Casino Royale. The song, though loved widely by fans, didn't go down very well with critics who thought the theme didn't suit Daniel Craig, the new Bond who liked hand-to-hand combat better than the fancy gadgets that his predecessors preferred.
'Hunger Strike' by Temple of the dog
Chris Cornell's impact through Audioslave and Soundgarden is unmatchable, and no one can forget that he was one of the pioneers of grunge music. And his collaboration with the likes of Eddie Vedder on 'Temple of the Dog' shows how truly legendary he was. No amount of tributes would be enough to compensate for this loss, but at least Cornell has left this rusty cage now.
'Sunshower' by Chris Cornell
'Sunshower' was one of the first tracks released from Euphoria Morning, Cornell's first solo studio album. The album marked Cornell's gap period between leaving Soundgarden and forming Audioslave, and was a critical success.
'Live to Rise' by Soundgarden (from Avengers Soundtrack)
The song marks an important highlight in both Cornell's and Soundgarden's career as this was the first song they released after their reunion in 2010. The song highlights the traditional sound of Soundgarden and off-scale riffs and beautiful transitions between acoustic and grunge. What makes it stand out is that Cornell feels right at home, almost as if he had never left the band, and marks his comeback with his trademark grunge vocals, filling us with hopefulness that he will always "live to rise, and ignite again".
'Like a Stone' by Audioslave
'Like a Stone' by Audioslave was the second single released from their debut album Audioslave in 2003.
The song was nominated for 'Best Hard Rock Performance' and Audioslave for Best Rock Album (2004).
'Show Me How to Live' by Audioslave
Their third single, 'Show Me How To Live' is a perfect of example of how too much of a good thing — is not necessarily a bad thing. From the staccato techniques of Tom Morello on guitar to Cornell's experiments with vocal pitches by just hitting his throat with the side of his hand, this song is a beautiful combination of both technique and emotion.
'Rusty Cage' by Soundgarden
'Rusty Cage' was one of Soundgarden's most famous songs. Released in 1992 as a part of their third studio album Badmotorfinger (1991), the song and the video were an instant hit.
'Black Hole Sun' by Soundgarden
'Black Hole Sun' is arguably one of Soundgarden's most popular and recognisable songs, released as a single from their 1994 album Superunknown. Cornell's lower register builds the song till the chorus, where he beckons the eponymous black hole sun while unleashing his vocal prowess and matching the heavy guitar riffs note to note. The song won at the 1995 Grammy Awards, for Best Hard Rock Performance and received a nomination for Best Rock Song.
'Like a Stone' by Audioslave
'Like a Stone' was also part of Audioslave's first album and is very different from the other tracks on it. It instead surrounds Cornell's sound with simple guitar riffs and a basic bassline, which enables him to draw out his lyrics and create a bittersweet feeling in the mind of the listener. It also highlights his lyrical genius as he perfectly encapsulates the idea that no amount of good can save you from going to hell when you die.
'Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart', Solo
Apart from being the single from his final solo album, the song also shows how much Cornell's musical style had changed over the years. From the use of the mandolin and a minimalist verse to his vocals becoming cleaner and softer, it still doesn't take away any of the essence and persona that he built over his nearly three decade career, as it finally comes to a close with his passing away.
'Spoonman' by Soundgarden
Spoonman, from Soundgarden's fourth studio album Superunknown, helped the band attain mainstream popularity. Aided by offbeat riffs, odd time signatures and heavy percussion, it helped define the grunge sound in the mid-90s. Inspired by a Seattle-based street performer named Artis the Spoonman, Cornell demonstrated his versatile vocal range and soon, became one of the most recognisable voices in the Seattle and global rock scene.