Birthplace Of Grunge Mourns 'Seattle's Son' Chris Cornell

May 18, 2017

Grief-stricken fans of Chris Cornell left flowers at memorials across Seattle for the musician whose forceful, somber songs helped cement the city's place in rock history.

Cornell was born and raised in the city and was part of a close-knit group of artists who formed the foundation of what would become the grunge scene that exploded in the early 1990s by combining the bombast of early 1970s heavy metal with the aggression and attitude of punk rock.

"He was a huge influence, one of the greatest singers ever to come out of Seattle, maybe the greatest single voice," said Charles R. Cross, a Seattle-based music journalist and author who knew Cornell personally. He spoke to 88.5’s Ed Ronco on All Things Considered Thursday afternoon:

One of the locations where people gathered was the Sound Garden art sculpture near Seattle’s Magnuson Park. Cornell's band, Soundgarden, takes its name from the sculpture.

"It's really sad that he could never find peace in his life," said Chad White, who came to the art display with his young son Ignatius to honor Cornell.

A bench near the center of the sculpture was covered with flower arrangements, one of which included a note, "Say 'hello' to Heaven," a reference to a song written by Cornell for a musician friend who died decades ago.

The Space Needle is set to go dark for an hour at 9 p.m. Thursday. KEXP, Seattle's popular independent radio station, paid tribute to Cornell all day. The station played non-stop songs from Soundgarden, Cornell's other bands and his solo work, as well as artists who covered Cornell's material and those who were influenced by him.

Authorities say Cornell hanged himself in a Detroit hotel room Wednesday following a Soundgarden concert. The band had reunited in 2010 after years on hiatus.

There’s support available for people who might be contemplating suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).