Mover and shaker of the grunge movement

Chris Cornell.
Chris Cornell.

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

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 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 over the weekend.

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 Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk.

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 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.

His soundtrack writing credits include You Know My Name for the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006), Live To Rise For The Avengers (2012) and Misery Chain for Oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave (2013).

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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Mover and shaker of the grunge movement '. Print Edition | Subscribe