REMEMBERING CHRIS CORNELL Tenderness and aggression

There’s a reason the world can’t seem to get past or distract itself from the passing of Chris Cornell. It’s absolutely devastating.

The 52 year old grunge legend’s death on the night of Wednesday May 18 in Detroit, USA was firstly ruled “sudden and unexpected” by his representative Brian Bumbery. It was later ruled as suicide by hanging, but his wife Vicky Cornell has disputed the claim in a statement:

“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details,” she said. “I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”

(Read the full statement below)

Cornell was best known for his powerful and unique voice out front of Soundgarden in the early 90s, achieving worldwide fame with hits such as Jesus Christ Pose, Black Hole Sun and Spoonman. Cornell later resurfaced in mainstream rock band Audioslave, a collaboration with members of fellow 90s legends Rage Against the Machine.

He was also known for various solo albums and Temple Of The Dog (a band created in tribute to the late Mother Love Bone singer and Chris’ ex-housemate, Andrew Wood). He’s considered to be part of the holy trinity of Grunge front men with both Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and for pioneering what became known worldwide as the Seattle Sound.

But there is more to Chris Cornell than meets the eye. Previous to the year 1991 the rock charts were full of hair metal bands like Poison or Whitesnake who paraded around their women, their cars and their wads of cash in music videos and MTV promo’s alike. This gave off an assumption that the average person in 1990 could never lead that lifestyle and never would. That was the point, excessive to the bone, no matter the consequence.

Then in 1991 grunge and the alternative era smashed onto the charts and into the minds of the general public. A scene that originally only existed within itself, and for the purpose of making music for music’s sake.

Soundgarden were a band that could be poetic, satanic and aggressive, yet they still offered a safe take on masculinity. They were never out to hurt anyone or to be seen as unrealistic.

I’ve heard people comment on the grunge era as “overtly masculine and gross”. To me, Soundgarden and Chris Cornell’s work always had a femininity to it, the way he placed certain chords and the way he screamed like a banshee.

As a female fan I always felt safe in their arms, which is what I mean by safe masculinity. I never felt threatened, vilified or that I had to look like the girl in Warrant’s Cherry Pie video and do sexual favours to call myself a fan. Chris Cornell’s music was never about that, it was open and vulnerable while being accessible and accepting.

The tragic passing of Chris Cornell wasn’t just another high flying rock star death. He should be revered for his tenderness as much as his aggression, and his passing has caused confusion for fans, friends and certainly not least of all, his family.

He was one of a kind. RIP Chris Cornell.


Kirk Pasich, an attorney for the Chris Cornell family, said that the family is shocked at inferences that Chris knowingly and intentionally took his life. “Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise. Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages. The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions.”

Vicky Cornell added, “Chris’ death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend. His world revolved around his family first and of course, his music, second. He flew home for Mother’s Day to spend time with our family. He flew out midday Wednesday, the day of the show, after spending time with the children. When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do. When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.” Ms. Cornell continued: “What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.

“The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”

Ativan is a brand name for lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication also prescribed to treat other ailments ranging from insomnia to epilepsy. The drug is rarely prescribed for longer than four months at a time due to its high potency, according to AddictionCenter.

Ativan belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or “benzos.” Benzodiazepines block the brain’s select neurotransmitters to slow hyperactive metal processes.