This morning, millions of music fans awoke to the sad news of the death of Chris Cornell, a one-of-a-kind talent who helped shape the tastes of a generation and then went on to transcend the genre he had a hand in creating.
Cornell was just 52 years old, and in the hours after the world learned of his passing, there was a tremendous amount of confusion regarding his cause of death.
As a result of Cornell’s past battles with addiction and society’s widely-held assumptions about the rock star lifestyle, many prematurely and incorrectly concluded that the singer had died of an overdose or a mishap related to intoxication.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Just hours after his death, medical examiners in Wayne County, Michigan officially ruled Cornell’s death a suicide.
The news comes as a shock not only to fans, but also to those who knew the Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman best.
Cornell’s widow, Vicky Cornell, says she spoke to her husband twice on the evening of his death and had no reason to believe that he was suicidal.
Vicky reports that Chris seemed out of sorts during their second conversation, which led her to become concerned, but she says he gave no indication that he was depressed or inclined toward self-harm.
Chris was in Detroit for a concert, and Vicky says she contacted a friend in the area to check on him after becoming concerned when he failed to answer his phone.
The friend also became worried when he received no answer after repeatedly knocking on the door of Cornell’s hotel room.
When the unnamed acquaintance eventually forced his way into the room, he found Cornell’s lifeless body with “a band around his neck,” according to police.
Not surprisingly, Cornell’s extensive discography is experiencing a major sales bump in the wake of his untimely death.
There’s often a sudden resurgence in interest in an artist’s body of work following a high-profile death, but rarely does it translate to such a tremendous uptick in paid downloads.
Two of Cornell’s most best-loved albums – Soundgarden’s groundbreaking Superunknown and Audioslave’s self-titled debut – have captured the number one and number two spots on Amazon’s music sales chart, respectively.
In a strange coincidence, several of Cornell’s recordings will be re-released on Friday, as part of a re-issue of the soundtrack to the beloved Cameron Crowe film Singles.
While Chris Cornell’s passing is undeniably tragic, and the singer has left us far before his time, there’s a comfort in knowing that his work will live on and be treasured by future generations.