2002 – Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell walks out of rehearsals for new project with members of Rage Against the Machine. Fortunately, he later returns; the band takes the name Audioslave.
Chris Cornell was born Christopher John Boyle in Seattle, Washington on July 20th 1964. Chris is the second youngest of Karen and Ed Boyle’s 6 children. His father was a pharmacist and his mother worked as an accountant. His parents divorced when Chris was in his early teens. After his parents marriage ended, Chris and his siblings changed their surnames from Boyle to his mother’s maiden name, Cornell. Chris rebelled against his Irish 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. He also enjoyed success with several side projects, among them Temple Of The Dog with Eddie Vedder. 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. 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 catagory 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. In a turn of fortune, this 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.
Cornell also checked himself into rehab and rebuilt his life. Now drug and alcohol free, he is fronting the first supergroup of the new millenium. Audioslave dominate the rock charts and have rapidly achieved platinum status despite the soft market for rock music. They’ve built a reputation as a live act that is second to none. Already halfway through recording their second album, the band are set to head back in to the studio after they wrap up the summer 2003 Lollapalooza tour.