Rocker Chris Cornell, best known as the frontman for both Soundgarden and Audioslave, has died. The 52-year-old was discovered dead in Detroit after a concert at the city’s Fox Theatre.
Cornell’s cause of death is currently unclear, though his representative, Brian Bumbery, said in a statement to the press that his death was “sudden and unexpected” and his family would be “working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.”
Cornell is survived by three children, a daughter, Lillian Jean with his first wife, Susan Silver, as well as another daughter, Toni and a son, Christopher, with second wife, Vicky Karayiannis.
According to a Detroit News Station, Karayiannis was the one who called a family friend to check on Cornell after the Detroit show. The report claims the friend forced open Cornell’s hotel room door at the MGM Grand Hotel and found him in the bathroom. Variety reports that his death is being investigated as a suicide.
“At 12 a.m. [local time], we received a 911 call from the MGM Grand Casino Hotel,” Detroit Police director of media relations told the publication. “It appears as though a family friend was checking up on Cornell at his wife’s request. He went to hotel and discovered him unresponsive on the bathroom floor. Police made the location with EMS, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. At present our investigation is leaning toward the possibility of suicide, but we must wait for a medical report to determine the cause of death. At this time we cannot release too much information about what we observed in Cornell’s hotel room or what led us to this conclusion.”
Karayiannis and Cornell married back in 2004 in a wedding in Paris, where Karayiannis was from. Their wedding featured agent Jeff Kwatinetz as Cornell’s Best Man, with Kwatinetz bringing his then fiancée, actress Brittany Murphy, to the wedding. Murphy, who passed away in 2009, was the subject of a video from the couple’s wedding that someone reportedly attempted to sell on Craigslist back in 2010. Cornell threatened to sue the site and the video sale ad was removed.
Karayiannis, a former publicist, seemed to be a positive influence on Cornell’s life, and he even shared a sweet message to her via Twitter on Mother’s Day, just a few short days before his sudden death. In the post, which featured a bouquet of pink roses, he refered to her as an “angel and a lioness” and even called her the “perfect mother” and “perfect wife.”
— Chris Cornell (@chriscornell) May 14, 2017
Karayiannis has not posted on social media since the news of Cornell’s death broke.
Though Cornell was best known as one of the early architects of grunge music, and for his songs with both Soundgarden and Audioslave, he was also known for philanthropic causes, including the foundation he and Karayiannis started together in 2012, known as the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, it was formed with the mission of protecting “the most vulnerable children” facing poverty and abuse, and the couple’s decision was based on their personal work with children who did face such difficulties.
The couple also worked together as restaurateurs in Paris.
Cornell had previously been open in the past about his heavy drug use both as a young teen and during the time where he was divorcing Silver, telling The Guardian in 2009 that their battle, which included a fight over Cornell’s own guitars which lasted for four years, led to his hitting rock bottom once again, and heading to rehab to clean up his act.
“It was the most difficult period of my life,” he said at the time. “I’m lucky I got through it.”
More information on this story will be available as it develops.