UPDATED with cause of death: Grammy winner Chris Cornell, whose band Soundgarden was a defining influence in the grunge sound that developed in Seattle in the ’90s, committed suicide by hanging, the Wayne County, MI Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday in a statement provided to The Associated Press. A full autopsy report has not yet been completed, the statement added. Cornell was 52.
The singer/songwriter was found dead following a concert Wednesday night at Detroit’s Fox Theatre, part of the band’s current U.S. tour. Most recently, Cornell wrote the song The Promise for the movie of the same name about the Armenian genocide for producer Eric Esralian. He also wrote the theme song for the James Bond film Casino Royale in 2006 entitled You Know My Name.
Soundgarden signed with A&M Records in 1988, the first grunge band to sign with a major label, though the band did not achieve commercial success until the early 1990s with Seattle contemporaries Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains. The band’s breakout success came with the 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart and earned Grammys for singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”. Soundgarden disbanded In 1997 over creative differences, but then reunited in 2010. Their sixth studio album, King Animal, was released two years later.
In 2001, Cornell joined with three former members of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave. Their most successful single, “Like a Stone” released in 2003. The group performed in Cuba in 2005, billed at the time as the country’s first outdoor rock concert by an American band. Cornell officially announced his departure from Audioslave in February 2007, but the band announced this past January that it would reunite for their first show in 12 years at Prophets of Rage’s Anti-Inaugural Ball, protesting President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The event took place on January 20, 2017.
Cornell also released five solo albums.