Suicide suspected in death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell

May 19, 2017 - 7:07 AM
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden arrives on the red carpet for the film 'Machine Gun Preacher' during the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) September 11, 2011. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell has died unexpectedly at 52, his publicist said on Thursday, and police in Detroit said they are treating the death as a possible suicide.

Seattle-born Cornell was found dead in the bathroom of his hotel in Detroit on Wednesday night, hours after the grunge band played a concert in the city.

“His wife Vicky and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing,” Cornell’s publicist Brian Bumbery said in a statement. He said the family would work closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.

A Detroit police spokesman said officers were called to Cornell’s hotel around midnight by a friend of the musician.

“When officers went to the room they found Chris Cornell laying in his bathroom, unresponsive and he had passed away. We are investigating it as a possible suicide but we are waiting on the medical examiner to determine the cause and manner of death,” said Detroit Police Department spokesman Dan Donakowski.

He declined to give further details.

Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden and later Audioslave, had tweeted earlier on Wednesday: “#Detroit finally back to Rock City !!!! @soundgarden.”

“What I look forward to the most — because I tour so much, especially the last couple of years, by myself — is the camaraderie. It’s what we missed when we weren’t a band,” Cornell had posted on Facebook on Tuesday. The band had been in the middle of a U.S. tour.

Soundgarden was one of the leading bands in the grunge music movement in the 1980s and ’90s, releasing albums such as “Badmotorfinger” and the Grammy-winning “Superunknown,” which brought the band mainstream music scene success.

Cornell had spoken openly in interviews of his struggles with drugs as a teenager, and later with alcohol. But he said in 2007 that he had been sober since checking himself into rehab in 2002. He also spoke of periods of depression and agoraphobia.

Led Zeppelin singer Jimmy Page led tributes on Thursday to Cornell, calling him on Twitter “Incredibly Talented, Incredibly Young, Incredibly Missed.”

Kiss singer Paul Stanley tweeted he was “Stunned to hear the death of Chris Cornell,” while Aerosmith’s Joe Perry called his passing “a sad loss of a great talent to the world.”

Soundgarden broke up in 1997 and Cornell in 2001 joined members of Rage Against The Machine to form Audioslave, which earned acclaim with its self-titled album.

Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and embarked on the current U.S. tour in April.

Cornell also had an extensive solo career as a singer, guitarist, composer and lyricist and worked with various other musicians over three decades in the music business.