Brian Bumbery, Cornell’s representative, released a statement to NPR on the singer’s death:
“Chris Cornell passed away late last night in Detroit, MI. 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.”
Soundgarden was formed in 1984 by Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto — it went on to become one of the biggest bands of the 1990s grunge movement.
Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains were other bands to come out of the Northwestern grunge-rock scene at about the same time.
Soundgarden found a place 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.
Cornell pursued a solo career after Soundgarden broke up in 1997.
In 2001, Cornell joined Audioslave and the band released three albums — disbanding in 2007.
Later, Cornell and Soundgarden reunited and in 2012 released the band’s sixth studio album, King Animal.
NPR’s Rachel Martin talked to Cornell in 2015. At the time he had just released a solo album called Higher Truth.
“In the interview that aired on Weekend Sunday, Martin noted Cornell was still recording with Soundgarden, and asked if he needed the band and the solo projects to make the whole?
” ‘I would live without both parts,’ Cornell answered. ‘But it’s a lot more satisfying to have them. It’s great to still be having new experiences with the same group of guys — because we invented a band together, and kind of co-invented a genre of music. Being able to come back and experience being a band together at a different time in our lives has been really rewarding, but it’s also just really nice to still share some part of my life with these people that have been so important to it.’ ”
Cornell, who was on tour in Detroit at the time of his death, was 52.