Whether you have listened to Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden or Audioslave, it is possible you have heard the voice of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell. While Cornell has performed in other bands he is primarily known for the above.
Chris Cornell had been performing, singing and writing music for many years but didn’t come to the forefront of the music industry until he started the band Soundgarden in 1984. Along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden became one of the most successful bands from Seattle’s emerging grunge scene in the early 1990s.
After leaving Soundgarden, Cornell joined the rock band Rage Against the Machine, a band that originally formed in 1991. Rage Against the Machine was known for its political lyrics. Labeled alternative rock to heavy metal, the band successfully continued until 2000. When the band broke up and recreated itself under the name Audioslave, minus band member Zack del la Rocha, Cornell became lead vocalist. Audioslave released their debut album in November of 2002 with hits such as Cochise, Like A Stone and Show Me How To Live.
While Rage Against the Machine lyrics were focused on being political, Cornell tried to tone it down when it came to writing for Audioslave. Cornell stated he did not want to become the new singer of Rage Against the Machine or any political band, but he would play benefits the other band members wanted to play. Despite his comment, Audioslave’s song Set It Off—was inspired by 1999’s WTO riots or better known as the Battle of Seattle. Cornell also wrote the anti-war song Sound of a Gun, and later Wide Awake, a song that was meant to be an attack on the Bush administration’s failure to act over the consequences of Hurricane Katrina.
The band was openly anti-Bush and against the Iraq War from the beginning; on March 17, 2003, only hours after President Bush announced plans to invade Iraq, the band performed live in Hollywood with messages reading “How many Iraqis per gallon?” and “Somewhere in Texas, a Village is Missing an Idiot”, scrolled across the stage. The music video for “Doesn’t Remind Me” was also critical of the Iraq war.
In 2002, Audioslave’s second album, Out of Exile, was released and debuted at number one on the U.S. charts. The album went on to achieve platinum status. It featured the singles “Out of Exile”, “Be Yourself”, “Your Time Has Come”, and “Doesn’t Remind Me”. Cornell admitted that the songs on the album were were the most personal songs he had ever written, emphasizing the positive changes in his life. Critics say the sound of the second album leaned less on guitar riffs than the first giving it more of a Soundgarden slash Rage Against the Machine flavor. Cornell’s voice stood out more in the album, possibly due to having quit smoking and drinking.
Audioslave later made history by performing in Havana, Cuba on May 6, 2005, becoming the first American rock group to perform in Cuba. The 26-song set concert was the longest the band had ever played.
Cornell continued writing and performing with the band, helping them release another album in early 2006 with the album Revelations. Cornell integrated 60s and 70s music as well as 70s funk and R&B to produce Revelations. Two of the songs, Shape of Things to Come and Wide Awake were featured in the 2006 film Miami Vice. Cornell followed this with another theme song You Know My Name, for the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale.
On February 15, 2007, Cornell officially announced his departure from Audioslave, stating, “Due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences, I am permanently leaving the band Audioslave. I wish the other three members nothing but the best in all of their future endeavors.” Audioslave was officially disbanded.
Cornell continues to tour around the world with his eclectic and experimental lyrics and music.
Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http://www.977music.com.