Chris Cornell is a rock icon who thrives on contradictions. An innovator who resists genre labels, he was nonetheless the chief architect of the 90s grunge movement. Ranked as "one of the best voices in music history," he has successfully maintained his own unique identity over more than two decades as a multi-Grammy award winning musician, Golden Globe nominee and universally acclaimed singer, songwriter and lyricist.
Seattle trailblazers 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. In 1989, they became the first Seattle band to sign to a major label Their sound continued to change and evolve over the course of five pioneering albums.
Celebrated side project Temple of the Dog had already shown Cornell’s more soulful side and introduced future Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder to the world. Later, Cornell shocked the business once again with richly melodic, critically acclaimed solo album “Euphoria Morning,” swiftly recognized for its alienation and despair. As the millennium turned, he joined with three other musical pioneers from Rage Against the Machine to create Audioslave, a multi-platinum, multi-Grammy nominated supergroup. On May 6, 2005, Audioslave played a free show in Havana, Cuba for over 50,000 people, becoming the first American rock group to perform an open-air concert in the socialist republic of Castro's Cuba. Rather than making a political statement, the trip was conceived as a musical cultural exchange with the joint authorization of the United States Department of Treasury and the Cuban Institute of Music. Cornell commented: "Hopefully, this concert will help to open the musical borders between our two countries."
Over three solo studio albums, Cornell has continuously redefined his sound and vision to encompass new music, new collaborations and new activities. Having contributed solo songs to movie soundtracks for "Singles" and “Great Expectations” to “Mission Impossible II,” he became the first and to date, only American male artist to be commissioned to write, record and perform the theme song for the James Bond franchise with "Casino Royale.” At the royal reception and premiere in London, Cornell was presented to Queen Elizabeth II. He has also had the honor to perform at the Kennedy Center Honors Gala in Washington DC, as well as in front of three United States Presidents.
Soundgarden made a historic return to the live stage in 2010. The band has since released retrospective album "Telephantasm" and "Live on I5", taken from archive recordings of their 1996 US tour and a new studio album, 'King Animal' was released on November 13 last year to rave reviews.
In January 2011, Cornell announced his solo acoustic Songbook tour, following on from a series of acclaimed solo acoustic shows in Los Angeles. The sold out tour of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South America received universally positive reviews. As Jim Farber of The New York Daily News observed, “sometimes you don't recognize the full power of a voice until you strip everything away from it.” Performances from the tour feature on Cornell’s 2011 live album, "Songbook".
As an innovator, Cornell forged the first-ever multimedia partnership between an artist and a commercial airline, Virgin America. As he has continued to evolve as an artist, Cornell has also evolved as a humanitarian through his passion for philanthropy and community, saying: "I'm in a fortunate position to use music to support important causes that help foster change." Cornell has been an active supporter of the Make A Wish Foundation, Stuart House and MusiCares.
In 2010 Cornell became closely involved with the Fulfillment Fund, a college-access and mentoring organization, and he and his wife have helped draw a whole new generation of mentors and donors to this cause. Chris’s Dream benefit concert was successful in raising much-needed funds and the new Chris and Vicky Cornell Scholarship Fund will enable a qualified student to be selected annually for a special educational award.
In August 2011 Cornell helped raise awareness for Sam Childers' Angels of East Africa children's charity with his song “The Keeper,” written for the Marc Forster directed film Machine Gun Preacher. For the first 24 hours of release, the song was exclusively available as part of the "Donate to Download" campaign and a portion of the proceeds continue to go to the charity. The song is also the lead track on the film’s soundtrack album and was nominated for a Golden Globe in January 2012.
In 2012, Chris and Vicky created the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, which fights to protect the most vulnerable children. The Foundation is currently developing projects and programs working with leading charitable organizations and partners to raise awareness and mobilize support for children facing tough challenges including homelessness, poverty, abuse and/or neglect. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only the most confident would claim to predict exactly what comes next for Chris Cornell. Only one thing’s for sure – he’ll continue to break rules, make history and challenge expectations.
Chris shows an early interest in music, especially that of The Beatles, discovers the piano and takes lessons. The teacher is impressed that Chris has already begun to craft his own songs without formal training and takes him to a conference at the University of Washington for a recital. Later Chris drops out of lessons, acquires a drum kit and plays in various local bands.
1984 - Chris forms Soundgarden with Hiro Yamamoto and Kim Thayil, naming the band after an art installation in Seattle's Sand Point. Chris initially plays drums while singing, but in 1985 the band enlists drummer Scott Sundquist to allow him to concentrate on vocals. They play their first show at a club called Top of the Court in Seattle. The band's first recordings are three songs for a C/Z Records compilation called Deep Six.
1987/1988 – Kim Thayil introduces the two eventual founders of the Sub Pop label and encourages them to start a label. Scott Sundquist is replaced by Matt Cameron and the band signs to Sub Pop, releasing the Screaming Life EP in 1987, and the Fopp EP in 1988. A combination of the two is later issued as Screaming Life/Fopp in 1990.
1988 - Though the band is the first of the Seattle grunge acts to generate major label interest, in 1988 they sign to the lesser known SST Records to release debut album Ultramega OK.
1991 - The new line up records Badmotorfinger in 1991. The band tours with Guns N' Roses to support the album, and later releases the video compilation Motorvision, filmed on that tour.
1992 - Soundgarden appears in the Cameron Crowe movie Singles performing Birth Ritual and Chris Cornell solo song Seasons is also included on the soundtrack. From July, the band joins the Lollapalooza tour alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Ministry.
1993 - Under the name M.A.C.C, Chris Cornell covers Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Baby (House Of The New Rising Sun)" along with Mike McCready, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron. The track is released in October on Hendrix tribute album Stone Free, alongside tracks by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers and others.
1994 - Soundgarden plays in Australia and Japan for the first time. In March, the album Superunknown is released and becomes the band's breakout album as they continue to tour worldwide. The music video for Black Hole Sun is a hit on MTV and wins Best Metal/Hard Rock Video at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. Soundgarden receive two Grammy Awards in 1995; Black Hole Sun for Best Hard Rock Performance and Spoonman for Best Metal Performance.
1996- The band's final album is 1996's self-produced Down on the Upside. Singles include Pretty Noose, Blow Up the Outside World, and Burden in My Hand.
1997 - February 9 sees Soundgarden’s last 90s show at Honolulu's Blaisdell Arena. Exactly two months later, they disband. A greatest-hits compilation titled A-Sides, is released in November.
2010 - In August, Soundgarden make a historic return to the live stage as headliners for Chicago's Lollapalooza festival, and release their retrospective album 'Telephantasm' in September.
2011 - Soundgarden announce the March release of live album 'Live on I5', taken from their 1996 US tour, and enter the studio to begin recording new material. In Summer, following Chris Cornell's 'Songbook' solo acoustic tour, Soundgarden embark on a tour of the US and Canada.
2012 - Soundgarden tour in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America. Their album 'King Animal' is released on November 13.
2013 - Soundgarden tour North America.
Temple of the Dog
1990 - Chris forms Temple of the Dog as a tribute to his friend, the late Andrew Wood, lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone. The line-up includes Stone Gossard on rhythm guitar, Jeff Ament on bass guitar (both ex-members of Mother Love Bone), Mike McCready on lead guitar, Matt Cameron on drums and Eddie Vedder on backing vocals. On November 13 1990, Temple Of The Dog plays its only live show at Seattle's Off Ramp Club in front of 299 people.
1991 - The album Temple of the Dog is released on April 16, 1991 through A&M Records.
2001 – Chris joins forces with three other musical pioneers from Rage Against The Machine to create Audioslave. It consists of Chris Cornell and the former instrumentalists of Rage Against the Machine; Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass and backing vocals) and Brad Wilk (drums).
2002 - The self-titled debut album, Audioslave, is released on November 19, 2002 and enters the Billboard 200 chart at number seven after selling 162,000 copies in its first week. Certified gold by the RIAA within a month of release, by 2006 it has achieved triple platinum status. It is the most successful Audioslave album, having sold more than three million copies in the United States alone.
Audioslave’s live debut is on November 25, 2002, performing on the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway in New York City, for the Late Show with David Letterman. It’s the first time any band has appeared on Letterman's marquee.
2003 - Like a Stone, the second single from Audioslave, is released in early 2003, peaking at number one on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts. It is certified gold by the RIAA and becomes Audioslave's most successful single. The music video for the third single, Show Me How to Live, incorporates footage from 1971 cult movie Vanishing Point. The band's first DVD, Audioslave, is released on July 29, 2003. The band spends eight months of the year touring worldwide.
2004 - Audioslave is among the nominees for the 46th Grammy Awards where Like a Stone is nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance and Audioslave for Best Rock Album. They spend part of 2004 working on a second album and in March, Chris marries Vicky Karayiannis. Their first child, Toni Cornell (named after Vicky's mom, Antonia) arrives September 18, 2004. Their son, Christopher Nicholas Cornell, is born 15 months later on December 5th, 2005.
2005 - Audioslave's second album Out of Exile is released internationally in May 2005 on May 23, 2005, then a day later in the U.S. It debuts at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, the only Audioslave album to reach this position, and the band tour in support of it from April until November. On May 6, 2005, Audioslave becomes the first American rock group to play a free show in Havana, Cuba, in front of an estimated 50,000 people at the La Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí. Audioslave also performs at the Live 8 benefit concert in Berlin on July 2, 2005, and tours North American arenas from late September to November.
Audioslave's second DVD, Live in Cuba, featuring the concert in Havana, is released on October 11, 2005, and is certified platinum in less than two months.
In December, Audioslave receives its third Grammy nomination in the Best Hard Rock Performance category for Doesn't Remind Me.
2006 - Audioslave spend the early part of the year in the studio. Revelations, Audioslave's third album, is released in September 2006. A special marketing campaign places the album’s art concept on Google Earth as a fictional island, Audioslave Nation, in the South Pacific. The album enters the Billboard 200 at #2 and sells 142,000 copies during its first week of release.
Audioslave released three successful albums, received three Grammy nominations, sold more than eight million records worldwide, and become the first American rock band to perform an open-air concert in Cuba.
1998/1999 - In 1998 Chris Cornell begins writing and recording with guitarist Alain Johannes and keyboardist Natasha Shneider of the band Eleven. Chris Cornell’s first solo album Euphoria Morning is released on September 21, 1999.
2000 - The album's single Can't Change Me is nominated for "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" at the 2000 Grammy Awards. Bonus track Sunshower is featured on the soundtrack for the film Great Expectations, and a reworked version of the track Mission, retitled Mission 2000, is used on the soundtrack to the film Mission: Impossible II.
2006 - Cornell co-writes and performs the theme song You Know My Name for the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale. This is the first Bond theme song since 1983's Octopussy to have a different title from the film and the first since 1987's The Living Daylights to feature a male singer.
2007 - In May/June, Cornell releases his second solo album Carry On, produced by Steve Lillywhite, which includes a groundbreaking reinvention of Michael Jackson dance classic Billie Jean as a slow blues. Among the artists accompanying him is friend and legendary guitarist Gary Lucas.
2008 – Cornell writes and records third solo album Scream with producer Timbaland and plays summer shows across the US with Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution tour. In the fall, he plays solo shows in the US and Canada and appears in front of the President at the Kennedy Center Honors Gala in Washington DC, playing The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" in tribute to the band.
2009 -- "Scream" is released worldwide in the Spring. In the first half of the year, Cornell continues to tour in North and South America and across Europe, taking in a total of 21 nations and including a triumphant open-air show in Tel Aviv. In December, he plays the first in his acclaimed "Songbook" series of solo acoustic shows at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles.
2010 - Chris Cornell's collaborations with rock guitarist Slash (on "Promise"), Santana (on "Whole Lotta Love") and Italian nu-jazz group Gabin ("Lies") are released.Chris plays more acoustic 'Songbook' shows at the Troubadour and the Roxy in Los Angeles.
2011 - In Spring, Chris Cornell embarks on a sold-out 'Songbook solo acoustic tour of the US and announces autumn dates in New Zealand, Australia and South America.
In August he releases “The Keeper”, an original song written for the Marc Forster directed film Machine Gun Preacher, released by Relativity in September 2011. The song is the lead track on the film’s soundtrack album and in December receives a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.
In September, he joins members of Pearl Jam for a Temple Of The Dog live reunion at the PJ20 Festival in Alpine Valley, WI. On November 21, he releases Songbook, his live acoustic album featuring songs recorded on the Spring tour.
2012 - Chris continues to tour 'Songbook' in the US and Europe.