Chris Cornell has one of the great voices in contemporary rock, able to convey rage, dread and vulnerability with equal skill. As the frontman for Soundgarden
, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave, Cornell projected a more complicated masculinity – sensitive, soulful but still rugged – than the typical rock star, which helped make him a hero for a new generation of hard rock fans. He was born on July 20, 1964, in Seattle, Washington, home of the so-called “Seattle sound”
of the 1990s. Devoted to the Beatles
at a young age, he decided to pursue music as a career.
Chris Cornell formed Soundgarden in 1984. Starting off as the band’s drummer, he eventually settled into playing guitar and singing. Over the course of five full-length albums, Cornell and Soundgarden drew inspiration from classic hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin to concoct moody, heavy songs. Though never as popular as their Seattle peers Nirvana
and Pearl Jam
, Soundgarden still managed to become superstars thanks to 1994’s Superunknown
, which was boosted by the epic power ballad “Black Hole Sun.”
The band broke up in 1997 but reunited
Temple of the Dog:
Before Soundgarden had attracted a mainstream audience, Cornell put together a side project to honor a friend, singer Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone, who died of a drug overdose. The band, called Temple of the Dog, included members of Pearl Jam and released their only album, Temple of the Dog, in 1991. Once Pearl Jam and Soundgarden started making waves with commercial radio, Temple of the Dog began to gain attention as well, introducing fans to a more soulful, melancholy side to Cornell’s writing.
In 2001, Cornell joined up with the musicians from Rage Against the Machine – bassist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello
and drummer Brad Wilk – to form the supergroup
Audioslave. An interesting pairing of Cornell’s deep, mournful growl and the guitar fire of Rage, Audioslave had a hard time escaping the shadow of the two groups that spawned them, but their three albums hold up rather well. The band broke up in 2006.
Between Soundgarden’s end and Audioslave’s beginning, Cornell recorded his first solo record, 1999’s Euphoria Morning
, which displayed his Beatles influence in full bloom but did not prove to be a major seller. After Audioslave split up, he returned with his second solo disc, 2007’s Carry On
. Although it featured his theme to the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale
, “You Know My Name,” Carry On
had the same mediocre sales performance as Euphoria Morning
. With his third record, 2009’s Scream
, Cornell decided to radically reinvent himself, recruiting acclaimed hip-hop producer Timbaland
to create more pop-savvy music.
Key Chris Cornell Songs:
“Rusty Cage” (with Soundgarden) (Purchase/Download
“Black Hole Sun” (with Soundgarden) (Purchase/Download
“Blow Up the Outside World” (with Soundgarden) (Purchase/Download
“Seasons” (solo track from the Singles
“Say Hello 2 Heaven” (with Temple of the Dog) (Purchase/Download
Chris Cornell Discography:
Chris Cornell Trivia:
- Chris Cornell’s first experience in front of a crowd was a sixth grade talent show at his Catholic school.
- He currently lives in Paris with his wife, Vicky Karayiannis. He owns a restaurant called Black Calavados.
- Cornell covered Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” for his 2007 album, Carry On.
- He co-wrote “Light On,” the first single from American Idol winner David Cook’s debut album.