Thursday 18th May 2017 will forever be remembered as a sad day for music lovers around the world. Chris Cornell has died. 18th May was already the day Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis took his life 37 years ago and now Chris seems to have left us the same way. I won’t speculate about his death or the circumstances leading up to it as I don’t believe it’s my place to do so.
Waking up on that morning had a surreal quality to it, receiving texts from likeminded friends about his death, you truly cannot believe it and have to double-check then triple-check. How can he be dead, he’s only 52? Soundgarden were touring again and had literally just played a show that night.
For me Chris Cornell has had the most influence on me in music, outside of my favourite band Pearl Jam. In fact it is well known amongst Pearl Jam fans that Chris played a big part in their formation, helping to get Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard playing together again after the breakup of Mother Love Bone due to the death of frontman Andrew Wood. Andy Wood and Chris were actually roommates and Andy’s death hit Chris so hard he wrote songs about it for a tribute album that would become known as Temple of the Dog, featuring Pearl Jam before they were even known by that name. He also helped outsider Eddie Vedder settle in Seattle.
More information about this great era in music can be found on the excellent documentary film Pearl Jam Twenty by Cameron Crowe. Speaking of Cameron Crowe, the remastered version of the soundtrack to his film Singles is due for release today. The film and soundtrack feature Chris as well as his band Soundgarden. I should be receiving my copy early next week. How I will react when I listen to that I don’t know. I have been listening to my Soundgarden records since I heard the news, as well as his great solo album Euphoria Mourning, trying to make sense of it all but it is difficult to comprehend.
I was lucky enough to see Chris live twice, once on his solo acoustic tour and once with Audioslave. I also had a ticket to Soundgarden I had to give up due to illness, but just seeing him in the flesh twice was more than enough to realise the power of his songwriting and voice. Especially the voice!
All I know for sure is that Chris Cornell was a great singer and songwriter, heralded as a great person by those who knew him, and he has had a hugely positive effect on me through his work. He will live on through his amazing music, and I, like millions of others, will never forget him. Thank you for everything Chris!