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Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at 52

DETROIT - According to his representative, rocker Chris Cornell, who gained fame as the lead singer of Soundgarden and later Audioslave, has died at age 52.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Brian Bumbery says Cornell died Wednesday night in Detroit.

Bumbery called the death "sudden and unexpected" and said his wife and family were shocked by it. The statement said the family would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause and asked for privacy.

Soundgarden is on tour, and the band was scheduled to play at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Monday night.

More from CNN:

The Grunge Era

Cornell began his career in the Seattle rock scene forming the band Soundgarden in 1984, which was influential in the 1990s grunge movement.

Cornell became another in a line of lead singers from major grunge rock bands to pass away. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home in 1994. His death was ruled a suicide. Alice in Chains' original singer, Layne Staley, died from a drug overdose in 2002. Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots died of an accidental overdose in 2015.

In interviews, Cornell discussed his past struggles with alcohol and the impact of his friends' deaths from substance abuse.

"I've lost a lot of young, brilliant friends, people that I thought were very inspired," he told Rolling Stone in 2015.

"They're all young and these guys all had limitless potential in their lives in front of them."

Soundgarden and Audioslave

Soundgarden predated both grunge pioneers Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but it wasn't an overnight success.

The group hit its commercial peak with its breakout album, "Superunknown" in 1994, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for best rock album. Songs from that album, "Black Hole Sun" won best the Grammy for best hard rock performance, and the song "Spoonman" won for best metal performance that year.

The group disbanded in 1997 and released a greatest hits compilation the same year.

The breakup wasn't anything unusual, Cornell told CNN in 2012. "It was just time for a break," he said.

In 2001, Cornell joined with three former members of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave. Their most successful single, "Like a Stone" released in 2003.

The group's defining moment was a 2005 concert in Cuba, which at the time was billed as the country's first outdoor rock concert by an American band.

As the charismatic frontman, Cornell was known for his raw and soulful voice.

He also sang the theme song to the James Bond movie "Casino Royale" and released five solo albums

Remembering the rock star

Soundgarden came back on stage in 2010 for festival performances and had recently started touring again. The band tweeted Wednesday night a quote from Cornell: "What I look forward to the most...is the camaraderie. It's what we missed when we weren't a band."

Rocker Dave Navarro mourned the loss of Cornell, tweeting: "Such a terrible and sad loss! Thinking of his family tonight! RIP."

Cornell said he offered minimal explanation for his songs, because he wanted fans to come up with their own meanings.

"If I write a song and put it out there, it's not mine anymore," he told CNN. "It takes on a life of its own, and when you listen to it, it becomes your song. And over the course of generations, those meanings will change."

 


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