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Soundgarden star Chris Cornell’s tragic death after breaking years of sobriety

Chris Cornell tragically took his own life on May 18 2017, just over four years ago, and today would have marked the songwriter, singer and guitarist’s 57th birthday.

Chris was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in two of the biggest guitar bands of the 1990s, Soundgarten and Audioslave, and the sound of those bands helped define the grunge movement popular in the era.

He’ll be remembered for tracks including Soundgarden’s Grammy Award -winning hits Spoonman and Black Hole Sun. The band had sold an estimated 30 million records worldwide.

With Audioslave, Chris had further success, and is remembered for singles including Be Yourself and Like A Stone.

Chris Cornell passed away in 2017
Chris Cornell passed away in 2017

It was touring with Soundgarden in 2017 though that Chris tragically took his own life.

He was found unconscious in his hotel room in Michigan while on tour with the band in the early hours of May 18 2017, and medics were unable to revive him.

Following his passing, Chris’ widow Vicky explained that she believed “something was very off” in the situation surrounding his passing, as he had been sober for many years and certain substances were found in his body by the autopsy.

She said: “When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”

Chris and his wife Vicky
Chris and his wife Vicky

She later released a full statement to press which read: “Many of us who know Chris well noticed that he wasn’t himself during his final hours and that something was very off. We have learned from this report that several substances were found in his system.

“After so many years of sobriety, this moment of terrible judgment seems to have completely impaired and altered his state of mind.

“Something clearly went terribly wrong and my children and I are heartbroken and are devastated that this moment can never be taken back.

“We very much appreciate all of the love we have received during this extremely difficult time and are dedicated to helping others in preventing this type of tragedy.”

Chris had struggled with depression and addiction throughout the 1980s and 1990s and had spoken before about how it feels to be suicidal.

Singer/musician Chris Cornell was loved by fans around the world
Singer/musician Chris Cornell was loved by fans around the world

Sober for much of his later years, Chris was awarded the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for “his dedication and support of the MusiCares MAP Fund and his devotion to helping other addicts with the recovery process”

At the time of the award Chris spoke about addiction. He said: “It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better.

“Going through rehab, honestly, did help… it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know, they give you such a simple message that any idiot can get and it’s just over and over, but the bottom line is really, and this is the part that is scary for everyone, the individual kinda has to want it…”

Since Chris’ passing, his widow Vicky has continued her work with the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation. Founded in 2012, the foundation supports vulnerable children around the world.

“The foundation supports organizations that provide shelter and resources for homeless, abused and at risk youth, children living in refugee camps and victims of human trafficking,” reads a section of their website.

The foundation also welcomes donations.

Just two weeks ago, Vicky shared a heartbreaking love letter from Chris in an interview with and revealed the family still speaks of him in the present tense in a bid to keep his memory alive.

The note to his wife was written in red ink and expressed his deep love for her.

It read: “I write this with the quivering hand that is guided by the fortunes of a heart lucky enough to know true love.

“My heart is a beating drum and my voice a clanging bell sounding to the world, I love you. Be mine in joy lit only by the glow of our shining love!”

Vicki added in the interview that she’s determined to keep succeeding with the foundation she set up in his name because “it keeps his memory and what was important to him alive.”

If you’re struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] if you’d prefer to write down how you feel.