Chris Cornell, one of rock's most iconic vocalists, took his own life on May 18th, 2017 in his hotel room in Detroit following a Soundgarden show. The legendary frontman left a legacy of incredible songs, years of success in several bands, and most importantly, his iconic voice.
Some of Cornell's most amazing vocal performances feature his signature range, which stretches from a rich low register to soaring high notes sung with force and intensity. At other points in his career, Cornell's greatest vocal work was highlighted by more understated singing that showed off just how versatile he was.
Let's take a look at some of the most incredible vocals from the legendary Chris Cornell.
"Hunger Strike" (1992)
One of his most memorable performances, "Hunger Strike" was a duet between Cornell and a then-unknown Eddie Vedder in the supergroup Temple Of The Dog. It was notably Vedder's first time on a record, but Cornell's vocals stand out for their intensity and, of course, the iconic high note he hits in the chorus.
The song was performed by Cornell and the members of Pearl Jam over the course of many years and with several different projects. It was last performed by Cornell when he reunited with his Temple bandmates for a reunion tour in 2016.
"Show Me How To Live" (2002)
"Show Me How To Live" not only features Cornell's signature intense vocal range, but also finds him achieving a strange effect with his voice. At the end of the song on the studio recording, he weaves between several notes and hits his throat at the same time for a bizarre effect that makes his voice sound almost computer manipulated.
The effect, as one review noted, is similar in style to the vocals of legendary Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The moment makes "Show Me How To Live" a particularly unique part of Cornell's vocal legacy.
Slaves And Bulldozers (1991)
"Slaves And Bulldozers" is arguably one of the band's heaviest songs with perhaps the most astonishing choruses in Cornell's vocal repertoire. Pushing between two amazingly high notes, Cornell remains on the edge of screaming in the chorus surrounded by pounding drums and a brutal riff.
A classic from their classic album Badmotorfinger, "Slaves" was performed regularly up until the band's final show.
"Jesus Christ Pose" (1991)
When Soundgarden released "Jesus Christ Pose" in 1991, they were still relatively unknown band and not the mega-success they would later become. The intense song was highlighted by Cornell's aggressive vocal, but the lyrics were anything but aggressive. As it turned out, Cornell meant to use the song as a way to mock the typical rock star attitude and persona.
Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil later told Louder Sound of the song:
Specifically, there were a lot of rock guys that did that arms-outstretched kind of pose; that sort of victim that’s suffering for their fans and their art. It’s kind of annoying. Chris took a stab at it, on some levels mocked it, and the irony fell somewhere else, I guess.