The sad news spread quickly this morning that Chris Cornell, frontman of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Audioslave, was found dead last night in a hotel room in Detroit. It was mere hours after Soundgarden performed at the Fox Theatre. He was 52.
The band was set to come to North Texas next Friday. They were to play the Bomb Factory with opening act Dillinger Escape Plan. The last two times Soundgarden came through town were in 2014 and 2011, when it played Gexa Energy Pavilion and Verizon Theatre, respectively. Cornell also played the theme song he wrote for the movie 13 Hours during its world premiere at AT&T Stadium in January 2016 in Arlington.
Soundgarden hasn't released a new album in five years, but that didn’t stop it from hitting the road this year. The Seattle-based four-piece didn’t need to play new material to make fans happy; it already had plenty of winners from albums like Badmotorfinger, Superunknown and Down on the Upside.
Cornell, who was originally the band’s drummer, took the frontman role early in the band’s career, helping it become one of the standout bands on Sub Pop Records. It moved to A&M Records with 1989’s Louder Than Love and continued on a crest upward through the rest of the ’90s until its breakup in 1997.
Cornell embarked on a solo career, which resulted in four solo albums, and he fronted Audioslave for three albums. Plus, he had his supergroup Temple of the Dog, which included members of Malfunkshun, Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam.
Temple of the Dog released its sole album in 1991 and had reunited in the last couple of years. Until the end, Cornell was a magnetic presence. His otherworldly vocal range was often compared to Robert Plant's.
In Soundgarden, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron provided him the backup he needed to shine. None of the them had lost any power on his instrument.
Fans and contemporaries flooded the internet with tributes minutes after Cornell’s death was confirmed. Plenty came from DFW musicians.
“Soundgarden was one of the very first bands that got me into rock music,” says Stephen O’Sicky of Caterpillars. “Chris Cornell's voice was one of a kind. So powerful. Soundgarden was a huge part of my childhood. We truly lost a grunge legend.”
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This sentiment is echoed by Dead Mockingbirds drummer Matthew Crain, who used to play Soundgarden's songs frequently in the grunge cover band Seattle. “Chris Cornell was someone who I always looked up to,” Crain says. “With all the projects he was a part of, we have a lot to remember him by. That doesn't make the news any less difficult to accept.”
Crain had tickets to see the show next Friday. “I still plan on being in the area to see if there is any tribute Dallas people have,” he says. “This is a sad day for musicians and music in general as we lose a great talent. I feel blessed to have seen them before as Soundgarden and Chris as a solo act and feel lucky to have experienced both.”
The Observer reached out to AEG, which booked the show at Bomb Factory, to confirm its cancellation. We have not yet heard back. At the time of writing, tickets are still being sold on the venue's website. It is not clear whether refunds will be offered if the show is indeed canceled.
Update: Bomb Factory has since cancelled the show. "Due to the untimely passing of Chris Cornell, Soundgarden will cancel the remainder of their scheduled tour dates," a message posted to the venue's Twitter Friday morning reads. "Ticket holders may obtain refunds at the point of purchase; online ticket buyers will automatically be refunded. Please allow 5-7 business days for the refund to process."