Chris Cornell’s death is being investigated by police as possible suicide, investigators have confirmed.
The Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman died shortly after playing a gig in Detroit on Wednesday evening, according to a statement made to Associated Press by his representative, Brian Bumbery.
Bumbery said the death of the 52-year-old hard rock stalwart was “sudden and unexpected.”
Police spokesperson Michael Woody later confirmed to Associated Press there were ‘basic things observed at the scene’ pointing to suicide.
— Zachary Jaydon (@ZacharyJaydon) May 18, 2017
On the night of his death, Cornell had performed with Soundgarden at Detroit’s Fox Theatre and photographs have been shared on Twitter from the gig.
The Seattle-born songwriter and singer helped form Soundgarden in 1984 alongside guitarist Kim Thyail and bassist Hiro Yamamoto.
The band went on to become the first grunge band signed to a major label and paved the way for the grunge movement. Cornell’s creativity inspired a generation of bands, from Nirvana to Pearl Jam, by way of Alice in Chains.
Tributes from fellow rock legends, including Jimmy Page and Billy Idol, have flooded Twitter:
RIP Chris Cornell
Incredibly Missed. pic.twitter.com/pKNI4tKiXz
— Jimmy Page (@JimmyPage) May 18, 2017
Sad 2 hear of Chris Cornell passing..great singer and artist… another blow…RIP
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) May 18, 2017
Amid a life on the road, touring with his different music projects, Cornell had bravely battled with drug and alcohol addiction. He reached global renown in 2006 after recording You Know My Name for the soundtrack to Casino Royale, the 2006 James Bond film.
While he endeavoured to bring grunge into the mainstream throughout the late eighties and early nineties, and give a voice to reams of teenage fans through his sonically heavy music, Cornell struggled with substance abuse.
The godfather of grunge eventually checked into rehab in 2003. After a long hiatus, Soundgarden reformed in 2010, releasing the album titled King Animal in 2012.
Recalling his time in rehab, he once told Spin:
I actually like rehab a lot. It’s like school; it’s interesting. I’m learning that I can be teachable at age 38. I would sometimes drink before we played. It wasn’t a big deal. It became a bigger deal when I stopped doing the other things I liked to do.
I used to ride mountain bikes around with my friends, and we’d keep 40-ouncers where the water bottle was supposed to be. But once I removed the mountain and the bike, there was just the drinking.
He later told Details magazine:
When I transitioned into adulthood – high-stakes emotional responsibilities – I did everything I could get my hands on. It happened without me really noticing it.
The thing is, when you pick up the pipe for the first time, you don’t know that that’s your fate. The moment isn’t that dramatic. And then that was it – I didn’t want to care anymore.
Despite personal struggles, Cornell experienced great success in his music and went triple platinum with Audioslave’s debut album.
Chris leaves behind his wife, Vicky, with whom he founded The Chris & Vicky Cornell Foundation in 2012, which endeavours to help vulnerable children born into poverty.
Chris also leaves three children. The family have asked for privacy at this difficult time.