Chris Cornell in 2007. Photo by Max Vadukul/Interscope

Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell Dead at the Age of 52

The singer was found unresponsive in a hotel room following a Wednesday night concert.

News came early this morning that Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden and son of Seattle, has died. He was 52 years old.

The New York Times reports that police were called to the MGM Grand in Detroit around midnight where they found the singer unresponsive in his hotel room. The cause has been ruled a suicide by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Cornell was, of course, one of the leading figures in the Seattle music movement of the late-’80s and early-’90s. With him front-and-center, often shirtless, Soundgarden became the first true success story in what later came to be known as grunge.

Following a Sub Pop single, the band released its debut album with storied underground label SST in 1988 and soon-after signed with major label A&M. Its next album charted on the Billboard 200. The band would release four more albums, including 1994’s Superunknown, a collection of songs that took over modern rock radio and topped the Billboard albums chart on the strength of the band’s dramatic songcraft and Cornell’s inimitable voice. The band broke up in 1998.

Cornell went on to front Audioslave and released a handful of solo albums before reuniting with Soundgarden in 2010. He played his final show, with the band, at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday night.

KEXP will be paying tribute to the late singer with a memorial at 5 p.m. at the station’s Gathering Space (472 1st Ave. N). Tomorrow the station will devote 12 hours of programming, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., to the singer.

mbaumgarten@seattleweekly.com

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