The music world woke up today to the tragic news that Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell died following a show in Detroit. His death has since been ruled a suicide. He was 52.
As one of the most prominent bands of the 1990s alternative rock explosion, Soundgarden helped define the Seattle sound and inspired countless artists to push rock outside the box. While they were often categorized as “grunge”—a descriptor that was strongly associated with their hometown—the group was often more experimental than their contemporaries, regularly utilizing unconventional time signatures and even branching out into psychedelia. However, the thing that pushed them high above the fray was Cornell’s combination of technical ability and raw emotional power. It was a gift he put to good use with Soundgarden, as well as with Audioslave, the band he founded with members of Rage Against the Machine in the years after Soundgarden’s 1997 break-up (he also sang with Temple of the Dog, an early ‘90s collaboration with members of Pearl Jam).
Soundgarden got back together after 13 years off the road, and one of their first stops after reuniting was a headlining slot at 2011’s Voodoo Music Experience. The show featured a litany of hits, along with a sit-in from Corrosion of Conformity and Down guitarist Pepper Keenan. I wasn’t there myself, but by all accounts it was a solid show. In honor of Cornell, yet another Seattle rocker who died too young, here’s a video of Soundgarden performing one of their most popular songs—”Black Hole Sun”—during their last New Orleans show on October 28, 2011.