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Grunge rock icon Chris Cornell dies at 52, rep says

In this Sept. 4, 2014, file photo, Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden, performs with his band at the NFL football Kickoff concert in Seattle.
AP Photo/Scott Eklund
The Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman's powerful four-octave range made him one of rock's leading voices

Grunge rock pioneer Chris Cornell, who rose to fame as the lead vocalist for Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died at the age of 52 his representative said in a statement.

Cornell's rep Brian Bumbery announced the "sudden and unexpected" death of the rocker Wednesday night in Detroit.

Cornell had hours before played his final gig at the city's Fox Theater, the latest stop on a national reunion tour by Soundgarden.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

"His wife, Vicky, and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause," Bumbery said.

"They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time," the statement added.


Known for his nearly four-octave vocal range and powerful belting style, Cornell was a Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer and lyricist.

Tributes to the rocker poured in across social media, celebrating Cornell's life and talent.

Led Zepplin guitarist Jimmy Page tweeted: "RIP Chris Cornell. Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed."

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry tweeted that Cornell's death was "a sad loss of a great talent to the world, his friends and family. Rest In Peace."

Folk-rock legend Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) wrote in a Facebook post that he was "shocked and saddened to hear that my friend Chris Cornell has passed away."

"His dynamic voice and heartfelt lyrics connected with a generation. A searcher of higher truth and enlightenment has, so suddenly, entered the eternal hereafter. Prayers, love, and condolences to his family," he wrote.

Seattle-born Cornell formed Soundgarden in 1984 along with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. The band helped shape the grunge-rock movement of the early 1990's along with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains.

Soundgarden's 1988 debut album "Ultramega OK" earned the band its first of several Grammy nods.

The band rose to mainstream success with its 1994 breakthough album "Superunknown", which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 1995.

The album's smash hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman" both won Grammy awards that year.

After Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, Cornell went on to achieve success with a solo career before forming Audioslave in 2001 with former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford.

The following year, Audioslave's self-titled debut album reached triple-platinum status spawning hits including "Like A Stone" and "Show Me How To Live."

In 2002, Cornell split from his wife and checked himself in to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center where he spent two months battling alcoholism.

Cornell had apparently remained sober since that time.

Audioslave's second album in 2005 also reached platinum status, with singles including "Out of Exile", "Be Yourself", "Your Time Has Come", and "Doesn't Remind Me".

On May 6, 2005, Audioslave became the first US rock group to perform in Cuba with a Havana gig in front of an audience of some 70,000 fans.

"Hopefully, this concert will help to open the musical borders between our two countries," Cornell remarked during the band's longest-ever 26-song set.

KEVIN WINTER (Getty/AFP/Archives)

Cornell announced his departure from Audioslave in 2007, with band members each going their separate ways to pursue solo careers.

In January 2017, Audioslave announced it would reunite for their first show in over a decade at Prophets of Rage's Anti-Inaugural Ball, protesting Donald Trump's inauguration as US President.

The event was held on inauguration day January 20, 2017.

Cornell most recently released "The Promise", a solo single for an upcoming movie about the Armenian Genocide by the same name.

In 2012, Cornell and his wife established the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support vulnerable children, including those facing homelessness, poverty, and abuse.


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