The late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell was one of a kind. His vocal delivery was charged with a primal energy that invariably gives you goosebumps, no matter what chapter of his career you’re listening to.
In addition to the fact he was one of the greatest rock singers of all time, up there with Led Zeppelin hero Robert Plant, is that Cornell was also a guitar hero, writing the majority of the Seattle band’s guitar licks, including fan favourites that range from ‘Rusty Cage’ to the timeless ‘Black Hole Sun’.
Ordinarily, this would be enough to make someone’s untimely passing too much to bear, but what proved to be the hardest part to stomach for his family, friends, and fans was that above all else, Chris Cornell was a brilliant man.
He was a kind soul who made an indelible impact on all those he came into contact with, including the mother of Jeff Buckley, whom he helped to bring the posthumous record Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk to fruition, and the late Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington, whose life he changed in only the best ways.
He was one of the most self-aware rockstars to have ever graced the earth, a refreshing antithesis to the typically lofty demographic that we are all too familiar with. Much like his heroes The Beatles and David Bowie, Cornell led by example, showing that you can achieve your goals whilst still being true to yourself and your roots, another stark departure from many of his contemporaries in the music industry.
To get a measure of Cornell, the following comment sums up his humble nature. “I’m not a lyric writer to make statements,” he once said, “What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colourful images. I think that’s more what entertainment and music should be.”
Cornell gave us many outstanding moments over the years, and one of the best from outside of his musical career came when he appeared on The Howard Stern Show in the 2000s and revealed that he was nearly in Bryan Singer’s hit 1995 thriller The Usual Suspects. According to Cornell though, he didn’t fancy it, and it’s something that he didn’t seem too bothered about.
He told Stern: “I got a lot of scripts, and there’s only one where I didn’t, I just said, ‘I don’t know anything about this and I don’t wanna do it’, which was The Usual Suspects… I could’ve been in that, and it took me, I saw it like three years later, after it came out, and it took me watching half of it before I even realised it was the script that they had sent.”