UPDATE: Detroit’s medical examiner said Thursday that a preliminary autopsy shows the 52-year-old singer died by hanging.
Cornell, who had been on tour, died Wednesday night in Detroit, Brian Bumbery said in a statement to The Associated Press. Cornell had performed a Detroit concert with Soundgarden that night.
Bumbery called the death “sudden and unexpected” in a statement to CNN. “His wife, Vicky, and family were shocked to learn of his sudden and unexpected passing, and they will be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause,” the statement read. “They would like to thank his fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.”
Soundgarden | 5.17.17 pic.twitter.com/uBC6rSXWg6
— Fox Theatre Detroit (@FoxTheatreDet) May 18, 2017
Detroit police spokesman Michael Woody told AP Thursday morning that Cornell’s death is being investigated as a possible suicide.
Woody said he couldn’t release further details, but noted there were “basic things observed at the scene.”
Cornell died at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel, Woody said, adding Cornell’s wife had called a family friend and asked him to check on her husband. The friend reportedly forced open a hotel room door and found Cornell in the bathroom.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office will make an official determination about the cause of death.
The singer is survived by his wife, Vicky and three children.
Celebrities paid tribute to the late star following the news on social media.
“Shocked and saddened by the sudden death of @chriscornell. A great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man,” Elton John tweeted.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) May 18, 2017
Jimmy Page wrote, “RIP Chris Cornell. Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed.”
RIP Chris Cornell
Incredibly Missed. pic.twitter.com/pKNI4tKiXz
— Jimmy Page (@JimmyPage) May 18, 2017
RIP Chris Cornell. Such a tremendous loss. pic.twitter.com/T166hfNBpC
— Goo Goo Dolls (@googoodolls) May 18, 2017
RIP Chris Cornell. Chris was the most influential singer to me as a writer. I just saw him perform days ago. Completely devastated
— Mark Tremonti (@MarkTremonti) May 18, 2017
Actor Will Sasso wrote, “His voice pulverized all classification, forever otherworldly. My heart goes out to his family. RIP Chris Cornell.”
His voice pulverized all classification, forever otherworldly. My heart goes out to his family. RIP Chris Cornell. https://t.co/Qje25HWmUg
— Will Sasso (@WillSasso) May 18, 2017
Musician Billy Idol shared, “Sad 2 hear of Chris Cornell passing. Great singer and artist… another blow… RIP.”
Sad 2 hear of Chris Cornell passing..great singer and artist… another blow…RIP
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) May 18, 2017
Chris Cornell got it right. pic.twitter.com/fn2T8lRD3m
— Eric Alper (@ThatEricAlper) May 18, 2017
Oh, man. #ChrisCornell. No way. This is so sad and such a shock. What a talent.
— Richard Marx (@richardmarx) May 18, 2017
Gavin Rossdale added: ““I AM SO SADDENED BY CHRIS CORNELL PASSING. @soundgarden TOTAL SHOCK. GREAT MAN. GREAT BAND. GREAT LOSS. LOVE TO EVERYONE IN HIS WORLD. XXX.”
I AM SO SADDENED BY CHRIS CORNELL PASSING. @soundgarden
TOTAL SHOCK.GREAT MAN.GREAT BAND.GREAT LOSS. LOVE TO EVERYONE IN HIS WORLD. XXX
— GAVIN ROSSDALE (@GavinRossdale) May 18, 2017
Rest in peace Chris Cornell. You may be gone but your music will live on.
Lollapalooza 2010 photo by Dave Mead pic.twitter.com/OHTqPehigj
— Lollapalooza (@lollapalooza) May 18, 2017
SO SO stunned to hear about Chris Cornell! Such a terrible and sad loss! Thinking of his family tonight! RIP
— Dave Navarro (@DaveNavarro) May 18, 2017
RIP Chris Cornell. Say hello to heaven. pic.twitter.com/NPfiWr1geF
— Riot Fest (@RiotFest) May 18, 2017
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) May 18, 2017
Very sad news about Chris Cornell today. A sad loss of a great talent to the world, his friends and family. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/BlgxE6cJLH
— Joe Perry (@JoePerry) May 18, 2017
With his powerful, nearly four-octave vocal range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s grunge movement with Soundgarden, which emerged as one of the biggest bands out of Seattle’s emerging music scene, joining the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.
Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, but they reunited in 2012 and he also fronted the group Audioslave, which disbanded in 2007.
Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and released the band’s sixth studio album, King Animal in 2012.
Cornell also collaborated with members of what would become Pearl Jam to form Temple of the Dog, which produced a self-titled album in 1991 in tribute to friend Andrew Wood, former frontman of Mother Love Bone.
In addition to his work with these groups, Cornell also released four solo albums and a live album of his own work. He released the single The Promise in March on iTunes, with all proceeds going to the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian aid, relief, and development non-governmental organization.
In addition to his music, Cornell also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
Alan Cross joined Melani and Adam on The Edge this morning to speak about the death of Cornell.
Cross says that this death is “another shocking one” because Cornell was only 52 years old.
“Yes he did have his problems with alcohol and drugs but that was a long time ago, 2003. He was 38 at the time and had a real problem with heroin, real problem with drinking and checked into rehab, apparently really enjoyed it and as far as anybody knows, he’s been living a very clean and very sober life ever since.” Cross said about Cornell. “He’s even devoted himself to philanthropy. He has his foundation called the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation.”
He continued: “There was no indication that anything was wrong. Soundgarden rolled into Detroit last night and one of the last things he tweets was “Finally back in rock city” and then a few hours later he was gone.”
— Chris Cornell (@chriscornell) May 18, 2017
Listen to the full interview below.
—With files from The Associated Press