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Chris Cornell Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (32) | Personal Quotes (26)

Overview (5)

Born in Seattle, Washington, USA
Died in Detroit, Michigan, USA  (suicide by hanging)
Birth NameChristopher John Boyle
Nickname Frisbee
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Chris Cornell was a rock icon who thrived on contradictions. An innovator who resisted genre labels, he was nonetheless a chief architect of the 90s grunge movement. Frequently ranked as one of the best voices in music history, he successfully maintained his own unique identity over decades as a multi-Grammy award-winning musician and universally acclaimed singer, songwriter and lyricist.

Chris Cornell was born Christopher John Boyle on July 20 1964 in Seattle, Washington. He was the second youngest of six children, and was the son of Karen Cornell, an accountant, and Edward Boyle, a pharmacist. He was of mostly Irish, English, Scottish, and Norwegian ancestry, with many of his mother's ancestors coming from Canada. His parents divorced when Chris was in his early teens, and Chris and his siblings changed their surnames from Boyle to his mother's maiden name. Chris rebelled against his Catholic upbringing and was on the verge of being expelled from the parochial school he attended when his mother pulled him out. As an adolescent, he experimented with drugs and stealing. Among the things he stole were a collection of Beatles records from his neighbour's basement which sparked an interest in songwriting. Though his parents had given him piano lessons from early on, Chris said his mother saved his life when she bought him a snare drum. A week later he bought himself an entire drum kit and thus began his forage into rock n roll.

Cornell dropped out of school at the age of 15 for two reasons: one was because he had problems with authority, the other was that he wanted to work to help his mother support the family. He waited tables and later on became a cook. He honed his skills as a songwriter and musician by playing in bands on the side. He experienced his first bouts of depression during his teens. His condition became so severe he didn't leave his home for almost a year. Fortunately, he was able to check his use of recreational drugs. He later earned his GED.

He formed Soundgaren with Hiro Yamamoto, Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron in the mid-eighties. Yamamoto left the band was replaced by Ben Shepherd. Soundgarden were the first of the Seattle grunge bands to get signed by a major label during the late 80s and would eventually go on to become on of the most successful bands of the 1990s. Soundgarden were a law to themselves, edgy, dark and deeply individual. Their savage soundscapes, coupled with Cornell's incisive lyrics and predatory roar, seduced audiences hungry for musical depth and complexity, while leading trends in street fashion and iconic design. Their sound continued to change and evolve over the course of five pioneering albums.

Chris also enjoyed success with several side projects, among them Temple Of The Dog with Eddie Vedder. Temple had already shown Cornell's more soulful side, and introduced future Pearl Jam frontman Vedder to the world.

Around this time, he married his long-time girlfriend, Alice In Chains manager Susan Silver. Silver, at the request of Cornell's band, had also taken on the management duties of Soundgarden. After achieving multi-platinum status and earning 2 Grammy awards, Soundgarden amicably disbanded in 1997.

Cornell decided to go it alone and released 'Euphoria Morning', a solo album that showed his amazing versatility as a vocalist and songwriter, with its richly melodic and critically acclaimed sound, recognized for its alienation and despair. His songs shocked his grunge fanbase by boldly exploring folk, R&B and melding a variety of genres. 'Euphoria Morning' earned Cornell a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Male Rock Performance. However Cornell was dissatisfied with the commercial performance of his solo album and severely disillusioned by the deaths of several close friends. Plagued for many years by social phobias and alcohol abuse, it all came to head and he plunged into a deep depression. Once again, he began to use drugs.

In June of 2000. Chris and Susan welcomed their first child, a daughter, Lillian Jean. The couple later divorced. In a turn of fortune, 2000 was also the year producer Rick Rubin suggested Cornell jam with the remaining members of Zach de la Rocha's abandoned band, Rage Against The Machine. The collaboration was so successful, Cornell along with guitar virtuoso Tom Morello, innovative bassist Tim Commerford and powerhouse drummer Brad Wilk formed Audioslave, a multi-platinum supergroup which lived to deny its detractors, producing three top-selling albums, touring the world and becoming the first American band to bring rock to Castro's Cuba. They built a reputation as a live act second to none.

Cornell subsequently redefined his sound and vision to encompass new music, new collaborations and new activities. Having contributed solo songs to movie soundtracks from "Great Expectations" to "Mission Impossible II", he became the first American male singer to write the theme song for the James Bond franchise in its most successful film to date, "Casino Royale." His bold and bluesy reinvention of Michael Jackson dance classic "Billie Jean" courted controversy and attracted imitators. And his triumphant 2007 world tour brought together songs from every stage of his career, reinterpreting them for new audiences and blending their original fire with the shock of the new. He also married publicist Vicky Karayiannis, and the couple had two children.

Outside music, Cornell fronted fashion designer John Varvatos's Spring 2006 collection and settled in Paris with his family, where he has helped revive a historic restaurant, the stylish Black Calavados.

Chris Conell died on May 18, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Always eclectic, always experimental, he broke rules, made history and challenged expectations.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous and Clare O'Brien

Spouse (2)

Vicky Karayiannis (8 May 2004 - 18 May 2017) (his death) (2 children)
Susan Silver (20 September 1990 - 2004) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (5)

Goatee
Raw edged vocals
Four octave vocal range
Frequent use of odd meters in music
Powerful vocal belting technique

Trivia (32)

Became a father for the first time at age 36, when daughter Lillian Jean Cornell was born on June 28, 2000 (7 lbs 12 oz). Her mother is Cornell's first wife, Susan Silver.
Lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and co-founder of the alt rock band Soundgarden (was originally the drummer before Matt Cameron joined and Cornell switched to vocals). Soundgarden was formed in 1984 and was the first Grunge band to sign with a major record label, A&M Records, releasing their first album, Louder Than Love, in 1989.
Wrote "Jesus Christ Pose" as a parody of Jane's Addiction singer / Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell. The song is a criticism of how public figures use religion (particularly the image of Jesus Christ) to portray themselves as being "better" than others, or as "martyrs". Perry Farrell had posed for a photo doing the "Jesus Christ Pose" lying in a bed for Exposure Magazine in 1989.
Used to be a cook. He worked at a seafood wholesaler and was a sous-chef at Ray's Boathouse in Seattle.
November 19th 2002: release of Audioslave's debut album.
Enjoyed snowboarding and mountain biking in his leisure.
Wrote the song 'Wave Goodbye' about the death of his friend, musician 'Jeff Buckley'.
Was an avid reader who enjoyed books on philosophy and eastern culture. Counted Sylvia Plath among his favorite authors.
He was a two-time Grammy winner, with a total of 14 nominations. Sold over 22.5 million records worldwide with his band Soundgarden; over 1 million copies of the album 'Temple of the Dog' in the United States; over 300,000 copies of his solo debut, Euphoria Morning, as well as earned a Grammy nomination. In 2002, his new band Audioslave sold 3 million copies of their self titled debut album in the U.S., and their three albums have sold a total of 8 million records worldwide. As of 2017, his entire catalog has sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Became a father for the second time at age 40, when his wife, Vicky, gave birth to his second daughter (and the couple's first child), Toni, on September 18, 2004.
Owned a rock-themed restaurant in Paris called "Black Calavados".
Lived in Seattle, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Miami and New York. The latter was his last residence by the time of his death.
His ancestry included Norwegian, Irish, English, Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh, German, French, and remote Manx and Swiss-German. Chris's maternal grandfather, Ralph Trivett Cornell, was born in Rothesay, Nova Scotia, Canada, to Julian Trivett Cornell and Emily Keillor Emmerson. Chris's maternal grandmother, Marion M. MacNutt, who was born in Washington state, was the daughter of a Canadian-born father, James Frederick MacNutt, and a Wisconsin-born mother, Clarabell Josephine Hubbell.
Dropped out of school at age fifteen.
Left Audioslave in 2007 due to growing differences between himself and the other band members. The other members of the band went on to reestablish Rage Against the Machine with their former vocalist Zack De La Rocha, while Cornell went back to his solo career.
Was one of the artists (with Audioslave) in 2003's revival of Lollapalooza, started by Perry Ferrell of Jane's Addiction, a touring festival of music and other exhibits. Cornell played on Lollapalooza with Soundgarden in the 90's.
Left Audioslave, citing "irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences" as the reason. [February 2007]
Became a father for the third time at age 41, when wife Vicky gave birth to the couple's second child, a boy named Christopher Nicholas Cornell, on December 2005.
Was considered for lead singer of Faith No More after Chuck Mosley left the band in 1988. Mike Patton joined the band instead.
Was considered the Godfather of Grunge.
Was friends with Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder, with Alice in Chains's lead singer Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
Used to ride a Harley Davidson FXR.
His nickname used to be Frisbee - there was a "Chris A" and a "Chris B" (himself) in the restaurant where he worked, someone misheard "Chris B" and he was stuck with "Frisbee".
He has five siblings: older brothers Peter and Patrick, and younger sisters Katy, Suzy, and Maggie. Peter, Katy and Suzy all performed in the band Inflatable Soule in the 1990s. Peter Cornell was the frontman for the New York-based rock band Black Market Radio and released a new solo album, Champion, in 2014. Katy performs as lead vocalist for the Seattle band Into the Cold.
He died on the same day (May 18 - but 37 years later) and in the same manner (suicide by hanging) as Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division. Cornell was also lead singer of a rock band.
Used to sign records and merchandise with the words "be nice to pets".
His first girlfriend stabbed him through the hand, for no particular reason.
Taught himself how to play the guitar.
Gave Jim Carrey the guitar he used the night they both performed at the Saturday Night Live in 1996.
Used to wear a fork necklace that was given to him by Blind Melon's lead singer Shannon Hoon, who made it out of a fork he got in Denny's (a US fast food chain), on the first tour Blind Melon ever did, which was opening for Soundgarden. After Hoon's death in 1995, Cornell stopped wearing the necklace. In a 2007 interview with Turkish journalist Servet Yilmaz, Cornell revealed that he had lost the necklace. He also used to wear a ring that belonged to Mother Love Bone's lead singer Andrew Wood.
His maternal great-great-grandfather, Henry Robert Emmerson, was a Canadian lawyer, businessperson, politician, and philanthropist, who was Premier of New Brunswick, from 1897 to 1900.
Shaved his head in 1993, and put his hair in a big envelope and mailed it to his then-wife Susan Silver. The fact that Cornell had shaved his head showed up in the entertainment part of TIME magazine, Cornell was disturbed by that.

Personal Quotes (26)

I'm not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that's more what entertainment and music should be.
[on The Promise (2016)] The film and plot are your band mates and the song has to be true to the story and the characters in it. "The Promise", to me, is mainly about paying homage to those we lost in the Armenian Genocide, but it's also about shining a light on more recent atrocities. The same methods used in the Armenian Genocide were used to carry out crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda and right now in Syria on multiple fronts, contributing to a massive global refugee crisis. Unfortunately, the words 'never again' seem like just words when we recall these mass executions of the twentieth century, as well as renewed racism and prejudice around the world. Even in the U.S., the warning signs - isolating groups based on race and religion - are evident. We really need to tell these stories and keep telling them in as many different ways as we can. As humans, we have a tremendous capacity to trudge ahead in our lives and not look at the difficult and challenging moments... but I think it's important. Educating ourselves on the past is the best way to understand the present and avoid future atrocities by understanding and intervening. We must educate and stand as one to combat this fear and violence, and as citizens of the world, work to protect each other's human rights. [2017]
[on The Promise (2016)] When people get done watching the film, rather than think, 'Wow, what a horrendous thing that happened a century ago,' realize that it is happening now, realize the film [is] telling a true story and you're seeing how it was created. And the fact that those warning signs are pretty much always the same leading up to a genocide. We have the ability as a global community to pre-empt that, if we're paying attention and we're not allowing our leaders to politicize it and get away with it. It's the goal of everyone in the film that it's representative of the past, but it's also exposing the present. [2017]
[on The Promise (2016)] I went to school in the U.S. and I wasn't taught about the Armenian or Greek genocide in history class. I don't know if that's due in part to the denial of it or what it is. It's one of those things where it's a story that needs to be told. And I think it needs to be told and retold. ... We need to at some point as human beings preempt this from happening. Genocide is occurring right now on this planet. It's not something of the past, it's something unfortunately of now, and unfortunately probably will be of the future. [2017]
I came from a childhood where I spent a lot of time alone and a lot of time just living with my imagination, and a certain amount of the adult world was kind of alienating. And I find now after spending a lot of time with my babies, they're my best friends. And I still find a certain part of the adult world alienating, so I'd rather just hang out with my kids. [2006]
[on his wife's Greek family that was also impacted by the genocidal policies of the Ottoman Empire during WWI] Literally, it's the DNA that goes from my children back to my wife's grandparents, who were both refugees of that policy. It felt like that connection was there. [2017]
[if he got nightmares from his research into the Armenian Genocide] It was more like daymares. Especially seeing some of the images and some of the documentary footage. You can't unsee it. (Chokes up) [2017]
[on The Promise (2016) and the Armenian Genocide] The first time I really started to learn about what the Armenian Genocide was was when Serj [musician Serj Tankian] was interviewing his grandfather for a documentary [Screamers (2006)]. I felt like there's such a thing as being too close to it and such a thing as being too far away from it. When Eric [producer Eric Esrailian] asked me to do it, I figured there's a reason and he's a smart guy and hopefully I can live up to the task. [2017]
I remember years ago, we were doing "Badmotorfinger", and I saw some drama on the Holocaust with Willem Dafoe as a boxer [Triumph of the Spirit (1989)]. I watched it late at night, and I woke up the next morning and we were flying from Sausalito back to Seattle. I got a migraine so bad that I had to be hospitalized. The blood vessels had expanded so much in my brain that I couldn't really talk. I could see that this was blue [points to a bottle], but I couldn't remember the word that was the symbol for the color blue. It was a scary thing and I've never had that since, but it's stuck with me that there's some part of me that has a hard time with that [images of genocides and atrocities] on some level that's way more intense than I would have expected. [April 17th, 2017]
[on The Promise (2016) and doing research on the Armenian Genocide] I read [director] Terry George's script and I was watching rough edits and I thought that was going to be it. Then one day, I was listening to the negative voices in my head too much, saying, "This isn't your story, so why the f--- are you writing it? Maybe I need to expose myself to a little more." [April 17th, 2017]
[on Soundgarden] We had our moment, and we had it on a level that has only happened in a few places. So, it's incredible that if there were one kind of defining moment in rock music that will always be in the history books, that one of them came from Seattle. That's something that none of us would have ever guessed.
[on the song "The Day I Tried to Live''] It's about trying to step out of being patterned and closed off and reclusive, which I've always had a problem with. It's about attempting to be normal and just go out and be around other people and hang out. I have a tendency to sometimes be pretty closed off and not see people for long periods of time and not call anyone. It's actually, in a way, a hopeful song. Especially the lines "One more time around/Might get it,'' which is basically saying, "I tried today to understand and belong and get along with other people, and I failed, but I'll probably try again tomorrow.'' A lot of people misinterpreted that song as a suicide-note song. Taking the word live too literally. "The Day I Tried to Live'' means more like the day I actually tried to open up myself and experience everything that's going on around me as opposed to blowing it all off and hiding in a cave.
[on Andrew Wood and Kurt Cobain's deaths and if it is legitimate to read a songwriter's demise into his lyrics after the fact - Rolling Stone, December 1994] When Andy died, I couldn't listen to his songs for about two years after that, and it was for that reason - his lyrics often seem as though they can tell that story. But then again, my lyrics often could tell the same one. In terms of seeing everything as a matter of life and death - if that's what you're feeling at the time, then that's what you're going to write. It's sort of a morbid exchange when somebody who is a writer like that dies, and then everyone starts picking through all their lyrics. In Kurt's case, whatever he was thinking and whatever he was writing, there wasn't an arrow pointing at what his demise was. It's a stream of thought, it's a possibility - it's definitely something that somebody was feeling when they were writing. It doesn't mean that it's going to happen. But it doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't, either.
[on if heroin use is more prevalent within the Seattle music crowd than it is elsewhere - Rolling Stone, December 1994] It's a nonissue. It's a neat story is what it is. There are so many drug problems in so many places that have nothing to do with entertainment that the focus on literally less than a handful of individuals in this city or any other or in entertainment is absurd. It's something that people want to talk about just because it's famous people. It's gossip. The biggest crime is that there are people who make no money, who nobody cares about, that have huge drug problems. Maybe the people who are getting uptight about it have too much time on their hands. Meanwhile, they don't know that cousin Mickey is strung out on heroin.
I remember a girl once came up to me after one of our shows, and she had a painting of Andy Wood on the back of her leather coat. She said, "I respect you so much for recording a tribute to Andy Wood, because he was so perfect,'' and then she walked away. Why would she walk away thinking that? Out of whatever songs he wrote and how he died, how did you get that? His lyrics basically said, line for line, "I'm fucked up.'' He could have written a song called "I'm Fucked Up,'' and it would have basically summed up a lot of the lyrics he wrote. And this girl wanders away thinking the guy's perfect.
[on Kurt Cobain - Rolling Stone, December 1994] We weren't even really friends. Ben [Shepherd] and he were. Ben actually toured with Nirvana as a roadie. And Ben and Kim Thayil were what I would [call] friends with him. I just met him a couple of times; we played some shows together. But what Nirvana was doing we were really proud of, and we always knew how great a band it was. We listened to their very first demos, and it was instantly our favorite band.
[on if Soundgarden had groupies - Rolling Stone, December 1994] No, we're not very nice. We don't encourage it at all. It makes us self-conscious. On the last dates we did, we'd always have girls sitting outside, wanting to come in. But you know what? Those are the same fucking girls that go to any show that plays the same venue. It seems strange to me, the whole idea. Fans are fans: They'll come to your show, and maybe they'll hit up on you when you're going between the stage and the bus and say, "I'm a big fan and just wanted you to sign my album.'' You can tell there's something in their eyes that says, "I've listened to your record a million times.'' Groupies aren't fans. Groupies have some sort of self-esteem problem, but it has nothing to do with us.
[Rolling Stone Australia, October 2015] I remember seeing how Layne [Staley] reacted to Andy [Andrew Wood] dying from drugs, and I think that he was scared possibly. And I think he also reacted the same way when Kurt [Cobain] shot himself. They were really good friends. And yet it didn't stop him. But for me, if I think about the evolution of my life as it appears in songs for example, Higher Truth is a great example of a record I wouldn't have been able to write [when I was younger], and part of that is in essence because there was a period of time there where I didn't expect to be here. And now not only do I expect to be here, and I'm not going anywhere, but I've had the last 12 years of my life being free of substances to kind of figure out who the substance-free guy is, because he's a different guy. Just by brain chemistry, it can't be avoided. I'm not the same, I don't think the same, I don't react the same. And my outlook isn't necessarily the same. My creative endeavours aren't necessarily the same. And one of the great things about that is it enabled me to kind of keep going artistically and find new places and shine the light into new corners where I hadn't really gone before. And that feels really good. But it's also bittersweet because I can't help but think, what would Jeff be doing right now, what would Kurt be doing right now, what would Andy be doing? Something amazing, I'm sure of it. And it would be some music that would challenge me to lift myself up, something that would be continually raising the bar so that I would work harder too, in the same way they affected me when they were alive basically.
[Rolling Stone Australia, October 2015] I've lost a lot of young, brilliant friends, people that I thought were very inspired. Andy Wood and Layne [Staley] and Jeff Buckley, who was a good friend, and Kurt [Cobain], and Shannon Hoon [of Blind Melon] was a friend, and Mike Starr [Alice In Chains] was a friend, the list can kind of go on if I sit here and try and remember. And they're all young and these guys all had limitless potential in their lives in front of them. And I think there's something so inspiring about that - that is like the miracle of youth. And to see that be the final chapter so young is a really hard thing to swallow every time.
[on one piece of advice he would offer to his children if they wanted to go into music - Rolling Stone Australia, October 2015]] It has to be done for the right reason, and I'd say that to anybody. Obviously I want my kids to be happy, and I believe that they can be super successful at whatever they want to do, but don't make the successful part more important than the process of doing it. Especially if it's an artistic endeavour. Make sure that it's inspired, that's your chief goal, 'cause I also believe that success comes from that.
[The Guardian, November 16, 2016] I've always had really difficult time with loss. I didn't deal well with Andy [Andrew Wood]'s death. After he died, numerous times I'd be driving and I would look out the window and I thought I saw him. It would take me five minutes to update to the moment and realize, 'no, he's actually dead.' This tour [with the Temple of the Dog], in a sense, is the dealing. It's facing the reality.
[on wife Susan Silver managing his band, Soundgarden - Rolling Stone, December 1994] Initially, I didn't think her being our manager was a good idea. But everyone agreed to keep a levelheaded attitude about it. And she's so protective as a manager that I don't think anyone's felt they weren't being taken care of. There have been situations where I get caught in the middle because Susan will be angry with the band, and I come out championing the band and getting angry with her. And there's been situations where it's the complete turnaround. But if I wasn't married to her, the other guys in the band would probably have a lot easier time feeling like they could call her an asshole if they wanted to.
[Kerrang! Magazine, October 1996] I annoyed the shit out of them [his parents] by spending my whole childhood beating on things. I drove them to distraction and I never thought they'd give me a drumkit in a million years. By the time I was 15 my mom had just about given up on me. But she must have figured that at least I had an interest in something other than drugs or being a criminal, so she bought me a snare drum. After a couple of days whacking that, I bought the rest of the kit for $50 from a guy I knew. Two weeks later I was in my first band.
[Ray Gun Magazine, September 1999] I think that in a lot of ways the Seattle scene was a turn-the-gun-on-itself scene. It was being born out of the punk rock bible, where being a rock star is a bad thing. So we couldn't enjoy our success because we weren't really supposed to. You had to pretend success was fucked. We all became very self-conscious. I wish now that we'd had a better attitude about it.
[on his first band The Jones Street Band - Rolling Stone, 1995/96] We played everything from contemporary rock-shit like Rush and AC/DC to whatever punk music was at the time - the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. There were some local punk bands that we would mimic. A band called the Fartz - we'd listen to their records and try to mimic them. And as a drummer I was really into the Police.
[on religion - Request Magazine, October 1994] I got the whole thing. Me and my sister [Suzy] got kicked out of Catholic school when I was in seventh grade and she was in eighth grade. Actually, our mom pulled us out because we were about to get kicked out for the reason that we were both too inquisitive... With a religion like that, it's not designed for anyone to question ... I feel sorry for people who honestly swallow it. To me they're fish. I don't wanna be a fish.

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