Medical Examiner: Chris Cornell died by suicide
DETROIT (WJBK) - The Wayne County Medical Examiner has confirmed the cause of death for rocker Chris Cornell as suicide by hanging.
Cornell was found dead just after midnight on Thursday in his hotel room at MGM Grand in Detroit. Hours earlier, he had played what would be his final show at the Fox Theatre.
Sources tell FOX 2 Cornell hung up on his wife at 11:35 p.m., and she called a body guard to check in on him. We're told the body guard forced opened the hotel room door and found Cornell unresponsive on the bathroom floor. A doctor at the hotel pronounced the 52-year-old deceased.
Although the cause of death has been determined, the full autopsy has not yet been completed. The Wayne County Medical Examiner did not provide any other details.
Cornell tweeted around 8 p.m. a picture of the Fox Theatre marquee, saying he was glad to be back in "Rock City."
"Chris Cornell sounded amazing. I mean, he has a very distinct voice so I don't think there was a single person in that building last night who thought that would be his last show," said Detroit concertgoer Brandon Chestnutt.
Soundgarden's Chris Cornell dead in Detroit after show at Fox Theatre
Soundgarden's tour kicked off in late April and was planned to run through May 27. Their next scheduled show was tomorrow in Ohio.
Cornell had become one of the most lauded and respected contemporary lead singers in rock music, thanks to his charismatic energy onstage and wide vocal range. He was a leader of the grunge movement with Seattle-based Soundgarden -- with whom he gained critical and commercial acclaim -- but also found success outside the band with other projects, including Audioslave, Temple of the Dog as well as solo albums.
Cornell, who grew up in Seattle, said he was kicked out of school at age 15 and he started using drugs at 13.
"I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16," he told Rolling Stone in 1994. "There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn't deal with anybody, didn't talk to anybody, didn't have any friends at all. All the friends that I had were still (messed) up with drugs and were people that I didn't really have anything in common with."
But at 16 he grew serious about music, learning to play the drums while also working as a busboy and dishwasher.
"That was the toughest time in my life," he told Rolling Stone.
He eventually became a Grammy winner with Soundgarden, formed in 1984 and coming out of the rapidly growing Seattle music scene, which included Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
"There's something about Seattle, it's always been a hard rock town, too. I didn't realize growing up as kid that Seattle had much more of a hard rock focus and a guitar rock focus than other cities did," Cornell told the AP in 2011. "It was like a Detroit, only northwest kind of. There's no reason that I would think I know how to define it, but it's always been there."
The band, who had released hit songs and found success, marked a mainstream breakthrough with "Superunknown," its 1994 album that launched five singles, won them two Grammys and sold more than five million units in the U.S.
The group, formed with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, broke up in 1997.
In 2001, Cornell joined Audioslave, a supergroup that included former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford. The band released three albums in six years and also performed at a concert billed as Cuba's first outdoor rock concert by an American band, though some Cuban artists have disputed that claim.
Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and released the band's sixth studio album, "King Animal" in 2012.
Cornell also collaborated with members of what would become Pearl Jam to form Temple of the Dog, which produced a self-titled album in 1991 in tribute to friend Andrew Wood, former frontman of Mother Love Bone. In 2011, he was ranked ninth on Rolling Stone list of the best lead singers of all-time, selected by its readers.
Cornell also released solo albums, and Nielsen Music said as a band member and solo act, the singer sold almost 15 million albums and 8.8 million digital songs in the U.S.
His first solo album, 1999's "Euphoria Morning," was a dark album that was initially supposed to be titled "Euphoria Mourning."
"It was a pretty dark album lyrically and pretty depressing, and I was going through a really difficult time in my life -- my band wasn't together anymore, my marriage was falling apart and I was dealing with it by drinking way too much, and that has its own problems, particularly with depression," he told Rolling Stone in 2015.
Cornell referenced death -- and suicide -- in 2007 interview with the AP when discussing his single, "No Such Thing." It appeared on his second solo album, "Carry On."
"The `no such thing as nothing' line comes from the concepts that humans don't really have a flat line until we're dead. If we are not leading a happy productive life, we are leading probably an unhappy non-productive life. If a person doesn't have enough food, they actually are hungry. If they don't have enough money it's not that they have no money, they actually have something and it's called poverty. There's no just kind of flat lining coasting. You're either going in one direction or in another direction. All that came out of me trying to imagine why somebody would be, for example, a suicide bomber."
The music industry mourned his sudden death online. Elton John tweeted, "Shocked and saddened by the sudden death of (at)chriscornell. A great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man."
"RIP Chris Cornell. Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed," Jimmy Page tweeted.
KEXP, Seattle's popular independent radio station, paid tribute to Cornell throughout Thursday morning. The station played non-stop songs from Soundgarden and Cornell's other bands and solo work, as well as artists who covered Cornell's material and those who were influenced by him.
"Seattle's son, Chris Cornell, has passed away," DJ John Richards told listeners.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.