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RIP Chris Cornell, Dead at 52. Medical Examiner Rules Suicide by Hanging

Christ. Another one.

Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell died Wednesday night/early Thursday morning (May 17-18) in Detroit. He was on the road with Soundgarden when he suddenly passed away after a gig at the Fox Theatre. (Here are some photos from that last show.) He was found at the MGM Grand Hotel after the gig.

One report says that Cornell’s wife, Vicky, worried that she couldn’t reach hime after the show, called a family friend and asked him to check on Chris. That friend forced the hotel room door open and found Cornell in the bathroom with “something around his neck.” A call was placed to 911 around midnight. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

From Billboard: “When the units arrived they were met by a gentleman who indicated that Chris Cornell had been found in his room,” Woody said. “When officers went to the room they found Chris Cornell laying in his bathroom, unresponsive and he had passed away. We are investigating it as a possible suicide but we need to wait on the medical examiner to determine the cause and manner of death.”

Police won’t say what they found in the hotel room. However, by Thursday afternoon, the Wayne County Medical Examiner had come to a verdict: suicide by hanging. Two Detroit newspapers had earlier reported that he was found “with a band around his neck.” Police have yet to confirm that.

Vicky Cornell says there were no signs that Chris was having suicidal thoughts. Yet…

Hours before his death, Chris tweeted this:

The setlist for the show ends on a spooky note:

  1. Ugly Truth
  2. Hunted Down
  3. Non-State Actor
  4. Searching with My Good Eye Closed
  5. Spoonman
  6. Outshined
  7. Kickstand
  8. Black Hole Sun
  9. By Crooked Steps
  10. The Day I Tried to Live
  11. My Wave
  12. Been Away Too Long
  13. Fell on Black Days
  14. Mailman
  15. A Thousand Days Before
  16. Burden in My Hand
  17. Blow Up the Outside World
  18. Jesus Christ Pose


  • Rusty Cage
  • Slaves & Bulldozers (with Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying” refrain. Freaky.)

There are reports that Cornell said some odd things during the show. Paraphrasing, it’s said that he commented: “The people on the next stop of the tour are going to wish that they had tickets to tonight.” One person claims to have Cornell say “This is our last show.”

Here’s a statement from his representative, Brian Bumbery: “His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause. They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”

While Cornell went through a period as a heroin addict and as an alcoholic, but that was back in 2003. He checked into rehab and he’d long cleaned up and was living sober for years. He told Spin magazine ““I actually like rehab a lot. It’s like school; it’s interesting. I’m learning that I can be teachable at age 38. I would sometimes drink before we played. It wasn’t a big deal. It became a bigger deal when I stopped doing the other things I liked to do. I used to ride mountain bikes around with my friends, and we’d keep 40-ouncers where the water bottle was supposed to be. But once I removed the mountain and the bike, there was just the drinking.”

There was another interview with Details:  “When I transitioned into adulthood – high-stakes emotional responsibilities – I did everything I could get my hands on. It happened without me really noticing it. The thing is, when you pick up the pipe for the first time, you don’t know that that’s your fate. The moment isn’t that dramatic. And then that was it – I didn’t want to care anymore.”

Then there was this from the Tampa Bay Tribune just last year: “People die of drug overdoses every day that nobody talks about. It’s a shame that famous people get all the focus, because it then gets glorified a little bit, like, ‘This person was too sensitive for the world,’ and, ‘A light twice as bright lives half as long,’ and all that. Which is all bullshit. It’s not true.”

As far as anyone knows, he appeared to be in good health. Since 2012, he’d also devoted a chunk of his life to the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, which helped children facing a variety of challenges from homeless and poverty to abuse and neglect. In fact, his last-ever tweet was related.

Soundgarden was scheduled to play the Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend, before moving on to dates in Maryland, Denver, Houston, Dallas and the Rocklahoma festival in Oklahoma City at the end of the month.

Damn, he was a good singer. He had a four-octave range. Check out these isolated vocals.

In a radio interview last year, he had this to say about those who die young.

“There’s kind of a history of sort of… not deifying, but glamorizing a little bit the ‘dead guy,’ whether it’s a rock star or a famous actor. Like James Dean, he only made three movies, and he’s one of the best-known actors of all time,” said Cornell. “And granted, I think everyone agreed that he was really talented. And he died in a sort of glamorous badass way, which was in a little race car on his way to a race, driving it himself. I think there’s something to the legend of that, and something to the story of that.”

Watch this space for updates.

Cornell was 52. He leaves behind two children (Toni, 12, and Christopher Nicholas, 11) and has a daughter, 16, with his former wife and manager, Susan Silver.

This tweet was posted on Mother’s Day for his wife, Vicky.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38300 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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