Cornell rose to fame as the lead singer of Soundgarden, one of the pioneers of Seattle’s grunge movement, which birthed iconic bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
At the time of death, Cornell was on a tour for a series of live concerts with the band that broke up in 1992, and came back together in 2010. Over the last couple of years, Soundgarden was back in the studio to record songs for a new album, with members Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd saying that they had six solid tunes ready last August.
Cornell’s has been a remarkable career. He was in fine form in Soundgarden’s most well-known song Black Hole Sun (video above), which was also notable for its surreal and apocalyptic video. After Soundgarden split up, Cornell was the lead singer of Audioslave between 2001 and 2007. He had formed it with other big names in the industry – Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk. One of their best-known songs is the 2003 single from their eponymous debut album, Like a Stone.
Cornell had said of the song in an interview, “It’s a song about concentrating on the afterlife you would hope for, rather than the normal monotheistic approach: You work really hard all your life to be a good person and a moral persona and fair and generous, and then you go to hell anyway.”
Cornell also had a successful run as a solo artist. He released five solo albums and even branched out into recording songs for film soundtracks. He recorded a song for the 2016 film The Promise, starring Christian Bale, and had previously worked on the official theme song of 2006’s rebooted Bond film Casino Royale.
In 1990, Cornell conceived the music project Temple of the Dog, a tribute to his friend and fellow rock musician Andrew Wood. The band released only one album, after which all the members, except Cornell, founded Pearl Jam. A duet between Cornell and Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder is notable for being Vedder’s first song credit.
A late classic by Cornell was Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart, from his fourth album, 2015’s Higher Truth.
Cornell’s influence was felt by many musicians, who remembered him on social media as news trickled in about his death.