Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Singer, Dead at 52; Police Investigating "Possible Suicide"

A rep for the rock musician calls his passing "sudden and unexpected"

By Zach Johnson May 18, 2017 12:45 PMTags

UPDATE: Detroit police confirmed to E! News Thursday that at 12:05 a.m., Chris Cornell was found unresponsive in the bathroom of his hotel room at the MGM Grand Hotel. His wife called a family friend to check on Cornell, who forced the door open and found him unresponsive with a band around his neck. Medics arrived on the scene, where the singer was pronounced dead.

The officer said she has no knowledge of a suicide note or if drugs/alcohol were found at the scene. Asked if foul play is suspected, she replied, "The cause of death is under investigation."

Police are investigating Cornell's death as a possible suicide.

A spokesperson for Wayne County, Mich., confirmed to E! News that the medical examiner is currently performing an autopsy. They expect a cause of death Thursday afternoon.


Chris Cornell died Wednesday night in Detroit. He was 52.

In a statement to E! News, Cornell's rep said that the musician's passing was "sudden and unexpected." Cornell—lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave—was on tour with his original band at the time of his death. According to his rep, Cornell's family is in a state of shock.

Celebrity Deaths: 2017's Fallen Stars
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Soundgarden was set to headline the "Rock on the Range" festival at MAPFRE Stadium in Ohio Friday. "We are devastated to hear about the sudden passing of Chris Cornell last night. He was a true hero to music. The voice of a generation," the festival's organizers said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the entire music community. The voice of an angel, now watching down on us as we celebrate and honor him all weekend long."

As of press time, Soundgarden has not issued a statement.

The Seattle-based band found fame during the '90s grunge era. Their biggest hits included the Grammy Award-winning "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman," as well as "The Day I Tried to Live," "Fell on Black Days," "Hunted Down, "My Wave," "Pretty Noose" and "Rusty Cage." Memorably, in 1991, MTV banned their "Jesus Christ Pose" music video. The band split in 1997, and Cornell released a solo album in 1999, titled Euphoria Morning. He went on to release three more studio albums: Carry On (2007), Scream (2009) and Higher Truth (2015), as well as a live album.

In 2001, Cornell joined Audioslave, which included former Rage Against the Machine members Tim Commerford, Tom Morello and Brad Wilk. They issued three albums: Audioslave (2002), Out of Exile (2005) and Revelations (2006). Despite their success, Audioslave disbanded in 2007.

Soundgarden—which includes drummer Matt Cameron, guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd—decided to get back together after 15 years apart. They released a sixth studio album, King Animal, in 2012. To date, three of the band's studio albums have been certified platinum: Badmotorfinger (1991), Superunknown (1994) and Down on the Upside (1996).

Cornell also teamed up with future Pearl Jam members to form Temple of the Dog, which produced an album in 1991 to honor Andrew Wood, former frontman for Mother Love Bone. In 2016, he toured with the group—which included Soundgarden members—for the first time.

Cornell, who was married twice, leaves behind three children, ranging in age from 11 to 16. In a statement Thursday, the rocker's rep told E! News that his wife "will be working closely with the medical examiner" to determine his cause of death. The family "would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time."

The frontman appeared to be active on social media in the hours before his death:

As news of Cornell's death spread across social media, tributes poured in:

Hours before his death, Cornell posted a clip from Soundgarden's "By Crooked Steps" on Facebook, and he pointed to a specific lyric: "I'm the shape of the hole inside your heart."

The tributes continued to come in as the day progressed.

"Chris Cornell was one of the influential originators of the 1990s Seattle grunge scene. A two-time Grammy Award winner, Chris' dynamic stage presence and impressive vocal range made him a true rock-and-roll icon. From the international success he achieved as the founder and lead vocalist of Soundgarden, to fronting the GRAMMY-nominated supergroup, Audioslave, Chris' extraordinary talent will forever live on and inspire fellow musicians and fans worldwide," Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy said in a statement. "We have lost an innovative member of our creative community, and our sincerest condolences go out to Chris' family, friends, collaborators, and all who have been impacted by his outstanding artistry."

—Reporting by Holly Passalaqua

(Originally published on Thursday, May 18, 2017, at 4 a.m. PDT.)

If you or someone you know needs help, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.