Troubled grunge icon Chris Cornell hangs himself

Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell died of suicide, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office. Cornell was found in his hotel bathroom after a performance in Detroit. He was 52.
Chris Cornell, the lead singer for Audioslave and Soundgarden has died at the age of 52.  Details as to the nature of his death are as yet unknown.
Chris Cornell, the lead singer for Audioslave and Soundgarden has died at the age of 52. Details as to the nature of his death are as yet unknown. PHOTO: REUTERS

Chris Cornell, who tapped on his four-octave range to rock fans as the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, has died at age 52.

The emblematic grunge rock singer whose sweeping voice masked lifelong struggles with drugs and depression, hanged himself late Wednesday moments after finishing a concert, AFP said.

In a statement to The Associated Press, his representative Brian Bumbery said the pioneer in the 1980s grunge music movement died on Wednesday night in Detroit.

Mr Bumbery added that the death was "unexpected" and that his wife and family were shocked by the sudden turn in events.

The statement said the family would be working with a medical examiner to determine the cause of death and requested privacy.

Cornell had performed with Soundgarden on Wednesday at Detroit's Fox Theatre, part of the band's North American tour.

The singer himself had posted about the show on Twitter just eight hours before his death was announced, reported BuzzFeed News.

He was scheduled to perform at the Rock The Range music festival in Columbus in Ohio on Friday.

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Cornell was one of the main movers and shakers of the grunge movement, forming Soundgarden with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto in 1984.

Soundgarden were the first grunge band to sign on to a major label (A&M in 1988), opening the gate for Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains to storm the music world with songs that focused on identity and social issues.

Soundgarden bagged Grammys in 1995 for their songs Black Hole Sun and Spoonman.

Cornell formed Audioslave in 2001 with former Rage Against the Machine members.

They disbanded in 2007 - with their track record lit by three Grammy nominations.

Cornell has also rolled out five solo albums in 16 years.

In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, Cornell said he had used drugs daily from age 13. He never completed high school and said he barely talked to anyone for two years as a teenager.  

He found his outlet in music, first as a drummer and then a singer and guitarist

Cornell had sobered up by the mid-2000s and his final decade marked a resurgence of creative energy.

In an appearance on the CBS This Morning show on April 22, he played three songs, including Black Hole Sun, and also spoke about his work in films. And true to his ideals rooted in the grunge era, he said he would donate his proceeds from his song The Promise (for the 2017 movie of the same name) to the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees to rebuild their lives.

Cornell is survived by three children. Two are with his second wife Karayiannis, a Greek music publicist whom the singer met when she was working in Paris.