The loss of Chris Cornell was felt by many across the globe. As the frontman of grunge legends Soundgarden, he had one of the most distinctive voices in rock. Like the 1990s, Generation X version of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Cornell’s voice was of a range that many have tried and failed to imitate.
In addition to his incredible lungs, as a songwriter, Cornell also shone brightly. Early influences of his were taken from Bauhaus, XTC, Paul McCartney and Siouxsie and the Banshees, and they informed an arty, yet gothic element to his songs. However, his material always managed to contain a pop melody, helping Soundgarden and Cornell to straddle both the alternative subcultures and the mainstream.
In addition to being the frontman of Soundgarden, Cornell also fronted supergroup Audioslave, where he was backed by former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk. Who can forget their massive 2002 hit ‘Cochise’?
Aside from purely residing within the confines of rock, Cornell also took on blues, neo-soul and stripped-back acoustic numbers – showing his true versatility as an artist. In addition to being a prolific musician who also gained the respect of and collaborated with an innumerable amount of other icons, he also was a dab hand at film soundtracks.
Throughout his career, Cornell contributed to the soundtracks of Singles, Mission: Impossible 2, Great Expectations and even 12 Years a Slave. Without a doubt, though, his most famous contribution to the realm of film soundtracks was the theme song for 2006’s classic James Bond film, Casino Royale. ‘You Know My Name’ was a worldwide hit and via its gritty music, helped introduce the world to Daniel Craig’s newer, more complex take on 007.
When Chris Cornell tragically took his own life in 2017, it was understandable that the world was left reeling. He was a genius. A true iconoclast that refused to be pinned down, he gave us some of the best moments in rock from the past 30 years. As well as his bandmates and peers feeling the loss, it was his family who felt it most.
In the wake of his death, his daughter Toni shared a candid anecdote in remembrance of her father. In the touching tribute posted on Cornell’s official website, she harked back to a critical moment in her life. This was when she and her father bonded over Prince. Toni started out by saying: “I have so many memories with you but one of my favourite ones was earlier this year when I was jetlagged and we watched ‘Purple Rain ‘. We were staying at the BHH and you came into my room when I was trying to find a movie to watch.”
This anecdote offers a portal into the brilliant mind of Cornell and displays just how vast his influences were. Toni continued: “‘How about Purple Rain?’ you said. I always trusted your judgement. I put it on and immediately fell in love! We then got to your favourite song, ‘The Beautiful Ones’.
Toni also shared the memory that Cornell had of first watching Prince‘s hit 1984 movie, explaining: “This song is so special it doesn’t even belong in a genre. When I was in my twenties, I saw this in the theatre and some guy started cracking up laughing at this scene and song. It got me really mad’ you said.”
Elsewhere, Cornell’s daughter also discussed just how deep she and her father’s connection ran and described that they were kindred spirits. She said: “Our special connection was always the arts. Poems, books, music, writing. We both have a unconditional love for it.”
Given that Cornell was an artist in every sense of the word, and that he tried his hand at almost every genre imaginable, it can come as no surprise that he was a massive fan of Prince. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to find any musician that Prince hasn’t impacted in one way or another. A beautifully touching tribute to her father, maybe one day Toni Cornell will also be making waves as an artist.
Listen to Toni and Chris Cornell cover Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ below.