Chris Cornell's swing through town this week has us marveling at a successful career that has lasted for more than 25 years, earning him both commercial and critical success, multiple Grammys, and sales of nearly 30 million records worldwide along the way.
With career bullet points that include being a member of the first American rock band to perform in embargoed Cuba (Audioslave), and becoming the first American male to record a James Bond theme (2006's "You Know My Name"), it's apparent that Cornell has exhibited the ability to make sound decisions. But while Cornell's list of good career moves greatly outweighs the bad, the recent release of his latest solo album has us thinking of nothing but the latter.
For that reason, we've compiled a list of his biggest career missteps...
1. Self-Producing Down on the Upside
After releasing back-to-back multiplatinum albums, 1991's Badmotorfinger and 1994's Superunknown, Cornell and his bandmates in Soundgarden decide to self-produce 1997's Down on the Upside. The result is an arduous nine-month process plagued by infighting and creative differences between Cornell and guitarist Kim Thayil. Despite heavy promotion, the album's sound has outgrown the early '90s grunge movement and its loyal fan base. It ends up selling 4 million fewer copies than Superunknown.
2. Disbanding Soundgarden
Following the protracted experience of recording Upside, tensions in the band grow, and Cornell desires to move beyond the heavy riffing that Thayil considers the key element of the band's identity. On April 7, 1997, Chris finally phones Al Cafaro, CEO of A&M Records, to announce the members' decision to go their separate ways.
3. Leaving Audioslave
When ex-members of Rage Against the Machine are looking for a replacement for frontman Zach de la Rocha in 2001, super-producer Rick Rubin convinces them to give Cornell a shot by playing them Soundgarden's "Slaves and Bulldozers." With Audioslave, Chris spends the next six years recording three albums that sell more than 8 million copies worldwide and earn three Grammy nods. Despite the fact that Cornell is always the most fruitful while in bands, he issues the statement in February 2007 that he is leaving Audioslave "due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences."
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4. The Scream Era
In 2008, Cornell teams up with noted hip-hop producer Timbaland to write and record his third solo album, Scream, a complete shift from the rest of Cornell's body of work—one that is notably devoid of guitars and heavily laden with busy electronic soundscapes and dance beats. The album, whose release date is delayed four times, is eventually released on March 10, 2009, five months later than originally scheduled, to largely negative reviews. In perhaps the biggest departure, Cornell is seen in the video for single "Part of Me" continuously surrounded by bevies of sexy dancers while he repeats the line "That bitch ain't a part of me..." ad nauseam.
On January 23, 2009, Cornell further alienates his core fan base and joins the ever-growing list of celebrities using Twitter to transmit mini-messages to their followers. Sample Tweets include: "I just ate shrimp," "I like to move it move it" and "The chicago airpot [sic] terminal smells like BBQ sauce." On March 11, Trent Reznor uses his own Twitter account to bash Scream. Cornell responds two days later via his, starting perhaps the lamest rock 'n' roll feud of all time.