(May 18th, 2017)
Today the world suffered a tragic loss. Not only for the music community, but for the mental health community as well. Late last night (Wednesday the 17th) after performing with Soundgarden in Detroit, Michigan, lead vocalist Chris Cornell took his own life in his hotel room. He was just 52 years old at the time.
About Chris Cornell
Cornell can be cited as being a figurehead of the grunge revolution of the early 90's, and is synonymous with world renowned acts like Soundgarden and Audioslave. Throughout his active music career, which spans an astonishing 33 years, starting in 1984 spanning to 2017, he can be tied to and associated with Temple of The Dog, Center for Disease Control, Eleven, Alice Cooper, Mad Season, and even Zac Brown Band. Needless to say, Cornell has been a name and face that fans of all walks of life have recognized for decades. Chances are, throughout the span of your life, you have encountered Cornell's work as Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" has been a staple anthem in popular media, even today. You virtually couldn't escape the track even if you wanted to in 1994, as MTV would air the music video on nearly a daily basis, as the melody and writing style embodied the revolution of music for the era.
Chris Cornell's unfortunate suicide isn't his first brush with mental health struggle. The iconic vocalist and song writer has shared his experiences with depression and addiction in the past, and when asked how Cornell beat all his addictions he stated, "It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help ... it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know, they give you such a simple message that any idiot can get and it's just over and over, but the bottom line is really, and this is the part that is scary for everyone, the individual kinda has to want it ... not kinda, you have to want it and to not do that crap anymore or you will never stop and it will just kill you."
What We Should Take Away from This Loss:
I find myself having an immensely hard time writing this article. I know in a general sense what I feel should be said to our community, and I find that I keep choking up trying to bring myself to speak on Chris Cornell. By no means is any instance of suicide more important or merits more impact than any other instance of suicide, however I think where Chris Cornell's tragedy strikes the hardest is that he was a generational bridge. Being one of the faces of a music revolution, Chris Cornell's suicide unifies people of two separate generations in facing the truth that mental health struggles and their effects are very much a real factor in society.
I type this from Jacksonville, Florida. Not but a month ago, Chris Cornell took the stage with Soundgarden for our annual Welcome To Rockville Music Festival to present an experience that no resident of Jacksonville expected to be their last with Chris. We gathered as individuals of all walks of life who set aside generational and societal differences for the span of a live music set, and in that moment were one. We were one group of people who had a mutual love for what Chris Cornell helped to bring to the world, and coexisted on those grounds alone.
In life, Chris Cornell was able to unify people through their love of music. In the wake of his passing, we should continue to stay unified in ensuring that we do not take his loss in vein. Bringing forth mental health awareness in our communities, creating an open dialogue about seeking support, and generating a more empathetic and compassionate way of life for those who may be struggling, in my own personal opinion, is the best way that we can honor the memory of Chris Cornell.