Last night news broke that Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) had passed away, with news arriving this morning that the cause of death was an apparent suicide. Musicians from across the genre spectrum have expressed their condolences or extreme surprise, with Forbidden’s Craig Locicero issuing this lengthy statement:
“When Alice told me that Chris Cornell was found dead, it was around midnight last night. After looking around I saw it was evidently true. Shocking and somehow not shocking, but most certainly dauntingly sad for millions of us and especially his loved ones and bandmates. When I awoke this morning it still didn’t seem real, but as I opened up Instagram, every post was a Cornell picture with heartfelt words attached to them. It hit me hard in that moment. It’s hitting me right now.
“In 1989 Forbidden went to the Foundations Forum in L.A. to do the schmooze thing with hundreds of other metal bands. Hair metal, thrash metal, prog metal, heavy metal…metal metal. It was like what the NAMM show has turned into these days, but worse. Or better… I dunno…
Everybody got a gift bag the first day. I didn’t even sift through mine until I got home. At that time I went back to living at my parents house in Fremont for a short stay. I opened up my gift bag and found a bunch of unmemorable crap and one cassette that looked interesting to me. Didn’t fit in the cheese bag. That cassette was ‘Loud Than Love’ by Soundgarden.
“I remember putting it on and immediately feeling transformed into a different world. One far less ridged and more free than what music was turning into commercially, even in my thrash metal genre. A world that wasn’t laid into perfect lines, but was splashed in colors and emotion. Less processed, more raw emotion and power.
“Like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Black Sabbath all met up in Egypt for a hooka hashish jam session. Chris Cornell was lofty and sang with gut wrenching passion without at all being pretentious.
“This completely cleaned my pallet from all I knew about music at my naive 20 years. I’d found something that transformed me and changed the way I looked at heavy music, for the better. All because it was in a little gift bag at the right time.
“The next thing I did was went backwards buy ‘Ultra-Mega OK.’ So heavy and beautiful. Nobody else in Forbidden appreciated it very much at the time. I was addicted. When the word ‘grunge’ came along following after Nirvana’s breakthrough, I was already entranced by Soundgarden and then Alice in Chains. These were not grunge bands. They were rock bands who did it better than most. They just were great bands.
“Ultimately, Soundgarden was the vessel that started me upon my musical growth and made me more fearless to try new things with my life. Up until then I was just riffing and writing without putting as much of my heart into it. This all happened as we were writing ‘Twisted Into Form’ but really didn’t have time to marinate into the music yet.
“After ‘TIF’ was finished, Alice and I headed to New York to get the record mastered by Howie Weinberg. I had a few days off to hang out with Jim Welsh and everyone at Combat, so one night we went to La’Amours to see Voivod, Soundgarden and Faith No More. In that order.
“This would be the first of many times I saw Soundgarden. That particular night, they took the show with their Middle Eastern influence and care free delivery. It was just heavy and massive. Beautiful. Cornell was a rock god in person.
“That was all the origins for me. Since then They got the accolades that they much deserved and put amazing slabs of art out with Badmotorfinger, Superunknown, Down the Upside and finally King Animal. All mysterious offerings laced with magic and chemistry.
“The closest I came to actually meeting Chris is when we were recording the Manmade God record in Hollywood starting in 2001. Rick Rubin signed us and was co-producing our record. Rick loved our sound and thought that our singer (Pann Reed) had a very powerful and soulful voice, much like Cornell.
“He loved it so much, in fact that he had an idea. To get the guys in Rage Against the Machine to jam with Chris Cornell and see what happens. This is while we are doing preproduction down in Hollywood.
“Next thing we know, they are writing songs on the spot for Audioslave and in the studio a month or so later. Audioslave pretty much was put together, recorded an offering and put it out all while we were still trapped in L.A. working on our record, which took over 2 years to come out after we started the recording process. Crazy and true.
“By the time the MMG record finally did start getting radio play, 6 months before the record hit, the reviews and DJ’s starting making the comparison to Audioslave. Because they figured we came after them. The irony. Not a bad thing at all, but certainly not the case.
“Cornell himself was a true enigma. Not too much was ever known about him because he was very private. His life was a bit mysterious and I’d heard many differing opinions about Chris, the man. I’d never come across him personally for some reason, it just didn’t happen.
“I do know from the time we spent down there recording that Chris was battling his demons during the Audioslave recordings. Just like the rest of us humans, he was vulnerable. I’m actually glad I never met Chris, so the mystery will stay with me forever.
“Much like John Lennon and David Bowie, he will sit in a special place that only true legends sit at in my heart.”