Chris Cornell, one of the most revered rock singers of his generation, died Wednesday night in Detroit after his band Soundgarden played a show at the city’s Fox Theater. He was 52.
Thursday afternoon the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was suicide by hanging. According to the Detroit Police Department, as quoted by Rolling Stone, a friend went to check on Cornell at his hotel in MGM Grand casino, where he found the vocalist unresponsive on the bathroom floor. EMS pronounced him dead at the scene. A statement issued by Cornell’s representative, Brian Bumbery, quoted in the New York Times, described Cornell’s death as “sudden and unexpected.”
With Soundgarden, Cornell helped pioneer the grunge sound. The group broke up in 1997 after releasing seminal records including Badmotorfinger and Superunknown, but reunited in 2010 and recorded the acclaimed comeback album King Animal. At the time of Cornell’s death, Soundgarden were reportedly at work on a new record. In April, the singer reported to Billboard that the band was “halfway through writing the new album,” but he noted, “We’re not on a schedule.” He also talked about what he enjoyed the most about working with the group. “What I look forward to the most — because I tour so much, especially the last couple of years, by myself — is the camaraderie,” he said. “It’s what we missed when we weren’t a band. When I do solo tours, I’m really kind of alone all the time, so that’s the best thing about it.”
Soundgarden appeared on the cover of Revolver in 2012 and talked about their reunion and the making of King Animal. In the story, Cornell reflected on the band’s breakup. “I think that what caused us to split apart, rather than just take a hiatus, was just that Soundgarden had become a business,” he said, “and that business had somehow, in a sense, started to be able to dictate to us what, where, and how we were going to do things, whether we were into it or comfortable with it or not.”