Yolanda Johnston – Chris Cornell

I fell in love with Soundgarden when I was 13. I stumbled upon them while falling asleep late one night to 89.9 the local AM college radio station for Green River Community College in Auburn, Wa. Through the crackle and hiss of the radio, I heard this hard, churning, odd-metered, dark, and melodic sound that spoke to me in a way I could not explain; I just knew that it felt like home. I immediately fell in love with Chris. He was this powerful vocal god who mesmerized me with his physical and sonic beauty. I couldn’t get enough. I was this silly kid who was too young to go to their shows, but I didn’t care because I was hooked. This was all before they hit the mainstream and then finally years later I got to see them at Bumbershoot and I was blown away. They had this massive demon head hanging above the stage glowing red and blowing smoke, it was so surreal. At this time I had the Louder Than Love poster with shirtless sexy Chris on my bedroom wall and my boyfriend at the time was extremely jealous and asked me to take it down…I said No. He sulked and said it was silly that I wouldn’t take it down. I told him that it was silly that he was jealous of a poster. No one could’ve convinced me to part ways with anything I had of Chris; he had already been with me for years and my love for him was deep.

When SG broke up, it hit hard. But, then Chris came out with Euphoria Mourning and it became the soundtrack of my life. So beautiful and haunting. It felt like Chris was telling me a brand new story every time I listened to it. Timeless beauty.

Unfortunately, I missed the whole Audioslave period as I was a full-time Music and Dance major in college holding down 3 part-time jobs. But, when I graduated and came up for air, I finally experienced this new part of Chris’ catalog and it was like a gift. It was so driving and powerful, but in a different way from SG.

Skip forward to 2010. I was a member of the Knights of the Soundtable fan club and I got this miraculous e-mail…”the wait is over, they’re back!” It was and still is one of the best days of my life. My boys were back at it! I was elated!! I went to every show I could, finally I got to see them again and it was the stuff dreams are made of. Chris’ voice was perfect. They released Telephantasm with a song I had not heard called Black Rain. omg, this was beyond words amazing. They were on fire and I felt like it was a song I had waited my whole life to hear. If this was what they had held back, I could not wait for King Animal to be released. I was not disappointed. It was an album that I played on heavy rotation for years after it’s release, it was and is so extraordinary.

The Songbook tour was amazing. I was so fortunate to see him at Humphrey’s in San Diego, which is a small outdoor stage next to a marina. This show was so intimate and in the moment. Chris was such an incredible storyteller, his banter between songs felt like hanging out at your bestfriend’s house. It was easy and comfortable. He was so honest, raw. He had this wonderful way of making you laugh out of nowhere. All he needed was a microphone and a guitar.

When Higher Truth was released I will be honest, I just couldn’t buy it. Something about it seemed absolutely final to me, something inside of me was saying that this was it. I looked at the cover art and it just screamed THE END at me. So, I ignored it. I went on and looked forward to the next Soundgarden album and tour. After Chris passed, during my trip home to Seattle at the end of May, I bought a copy of Higher Truth at Silver Platters in Bellevue, Wa. It is one of the most beautiful compositions I have ever heard. Every song is a gem, but it is the title song Higher Truth and the final track Our Time in the Universe, which ring in my head over and over. This was his farewell to us all. I hate that my gut was right…

Most of my life has been shaped and honed by the artistry of Chris and the boys in SG. I would not be the person or the artist I am today without that life changing moment so many years ago in my childhood home listening to them for the first time on AM college radio.

Last September, I was lucky enough to find three other people who wanted to pay tribute to Chris the way I did and we formed a Soundgarden/Audioslave tribute called SoundSlave. When Chris passed, we had the honor of performing a tribute show dedicated to him at the House of Blues in San Diego. I could barely keep from crying the entire show; we were playing for him, giving him our love and playing for the hundreds of fans who came to be with others who loved him too. It was a privilege to share his music with others. I was lucky to be able to pay tribute to him in such a special way. It felt like he was there with us. I will treasure that moment forever.

Thank you Chris for leaving the world better than you found it. Thank you for changing so many lives in such a positive way. Thank you for all that you gave. Thank you for all that you have shared. Thank you for making us laugh. Thank you for caring deeply about animals and human rights. Thank you for showing us all the beauty of the world. Thank you for being a good human, an amazing Father, a loving Husband, and a caring friend. Thank you for giving this girl the idea that it’s a good thing to love deeply and to leave it all on the stage when you play a show. Thank you for never letting me down.

You have saved my life so many times. I promise to Carry On.

Loudest of Love,


This link below is to the tribute we did toward the beginning of the HOB show. Instead of a moment of  silence we screamed Chris’ name, the video is a minute and a half.



Chris Cornell