In September 1989, I was in LA as a panelist at the sold-out Concrete Foundations Forum — an annual event and the world’s first exclusively heavy metal industry convention. On the evening of September 23, one of the bands performing was Soundgarden from Seattle. I’d heard of them but never seen them, so I decided to check them out.
The place was packed, and Soundgarden’s short but explosive set was jaw-droppingly good and included an incredible cover of the legendary Beatles song, “Come Together.” As good as the band was, the vocalist was the one that totally blew me away — his range, tone, passion, and pitch were world-class. Soundgarden had just released their sophomore album, Louder Than Love, and were anything but a household name at the time. That said, just like the first time I ever saw Van Halen and Pantera, I knew that I’d just witnessed the genesis of a giant that would, beyond any shadow of a doubt, become a household name one day.
Two years later, Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger, and the band’s popularity began to rise. Then in 1994, they unleashed Superunknown, and fueled by several hit singles including “Black Hole Sun,” Soundgarden deservedly achieved the household name status their September 1989 performance implied. Driven by Chris Cornell’s spine-tingling voice, Superunknown has sold over 5,000,000 copies in the USA alone.
Sadly, like many great groups, Soundgarden imploded in 1997. Chris released a solo LP, Euphoria Morning, in 1999, then in 2001 he formed the multi-platinum super group Audioslave with Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine fame. In 2007, after a trio of triumphant LPs, Audioslave dissolved and Chris returned to his solo career.
Then, after numerous internet rumors and to the delight of their vast legion of fans, Soundgarden reformed in 2010 and started touring, releasing its sixth studio album, King Animal in 2012.
The band played a sold-out show in Detroit last night (May 17, 2017) and was scheduled to headline the first day of the huge, sold-out Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus, Ohio, two days later on Friday — May 19, 2017.
Cornell’s Final Performance
A number of Sweetwater employees went to Detroit to see what would end up being Cornell’s final performance. They shared their thoughts on the show as well as some photos.
“Last night’s show in Detroit was great, as always,” Sweetwater Sales Engineer Delvin Wolf states. “I’ve seen Chris Cornell many times and was fortunate enough to shake his hand once. He truly is one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Although I only know him through his music, I feel like I just lost a family member. I’ll always listen to his music but will do so with a heavy heart from here on in.”
Josh Dillon, another Sweetwater Sales Engineer who attended last night’s show, added this:
“I am devastated and speechless to hear about the loss of my musical hero, Chris Cornell. He was the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place, over 25 years ago. Chris was one of the greatest vocalists in the history of rock, a brilliant songwriter, massively underrated guitarist, and always a class act. Today is an extremely sad day for music and I will miss him dearly.”
Tragically though, it was announced this morning that Chris Cornell passed away last night at the age of 52 and that it was “sudden and unexpected.”
In addition to being a much respected, world-class vocalist and one of the founding fathers of the so-called “grunge” movement, Chris Cornell was a much loved husband and father. He was also generous and charitable, forming the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse, and neglect.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Chris’s wife, children, family, loved ones, and friends at this heart-wrenching time. Thank you for all the wonderful music, Mr. Cornell. Rest in peace.