Chris Cornell Biography

Chris Cornell is an American rock musician. This biography gives detailed information about his childhood, career and timeline.

Chris Cornell
Quick Facts

Birthday: July 20, 1964

Nationality: American

Famous: Alcoholics Humanitarian

Died At Age: 52

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Christopher John Boyle

Born in: Seattle, Washington, United States

Famous as: Musician

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Vicky Karayiannis (m. 2004), Susan Silver (m. 1990–2004)

father: Ed Boyle

mother: Karen Cornell

siblings: Katy, Maggie, Patrick, Peter, Suzy

children: Christopher Nicholas (Son), Lilian Jean (Daughter), Toni (Daughter)

Died on: May 18, 2017

U.S. State: Washington

City: Seattle, Washington

Diseases & Disabilities: Depression

Cause of Death: Suicide

More Facts

education: Detroit, Michigan, United States

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Born Christopher John Boyle, Chris Cornell was a rock musician who served as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the band ‘Soundgarden’ and vocalist for ‘Audioslave’. He was also the founder and front-man of the band, ‘Temple of the Dog’, which was formed as a tribute to his friend, Andrew Wood. In addition, he had released several solo studio albums. An innovator, he resisted genre labels, but was widely regarded as the chief architect of the 1990s grunge movement. Once ranked as ‘one of the best voices in music history,’ he successfully maintained his own unique identity. What made his songs distinct were the non-standard chord progressions as he did not stick to one diatonic scale. Even for a short sequence, he changed the keys several times. This was his style in his early writing for ‘Soundgarden’, but later he switched to a more conventional style with short interludes. Over a career spanning more than two decades, he had been nominated for the prestigious Grammys several times and also for other awards, and won quite a few of them. He was also associated with many charitable organizations, particularly in the fields of education and child rights.

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Chris Cornell
Childhood & Early Life
  • Cornell was born to Ed Boyle, a pharmacist, and Karen Cornell, an accountant in Seattle, Washington. He has five siblings— Peter, Patrick, Katy, Suzy and Maggie.
  • He studied at Christ the King Catholic elementary school and Shorewood High School and loved listening to ‘The Beatles’. He was uncomfortable around people and was able to overcome the problem through rock music.
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  • Before becoming a successful musician, he worked as a sous-chef at a restaurant named ‘Ray's Boathouse’. In the early 1980s, he was member of a band called ‘The Shemps’ where he met bassist Hiro Yamamoto.
  • Soundgarden’ was formed in 1984 consisting of his jamming partners, Thayil and Yamamoto and himself. Later, Matt Cameron joined the band as its permanent drummer allowing Cornell to concentrate on vocals.
  • In 1990, he formed ‘Temple of the Dog’, as a tribute to his friend, the late Andrew Wood, lead singer of ‘Mother Love Bone’ and released an album, the following year.
  • Soundgarden’s final album, ‘Down on the Upside’, came in 1996 and included singles, ‘Pretty Noose,’ ‘Blow Up the Outside World’, and ‘Burden in My Hand’. The album did not do well commercially.
  • He began writing and recording with guitarist Alain Johannes and keyboardist Natasha Shneider of the band ‘Eleven’. His first solo album, ‘Euphoria Morning’ released in 1999 and included the single, ‘Can't Change Me’.
  • In 2001, he joined hands with three other musical pioneers to form ‘Audioslave’. Apart from him, it consisted of the former instrumentalists of ‘Rage Against the Machine’ - Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk.
  • Audioslave's second album, ‘Out of Exile’, released in 2005, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart.
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  • ‘Revelations’, Audioslave's third album, was released in 2006. A special marketing campaign placed the album’s art concept on Google Earth as a fictional island, ‘Audioslave Nation’, in the South Pacific.
  • He co-wrote and performed the theme song, ‘You Know My Name’, for the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale, the first Bond theme song since ‘Octopussy’ to have a different title from the film.
  • His 2007 solo album, ‘Carry On’, produced by Steve Lillywhite, was in collaboration with his friend and legendary guitarist, Gary Lucas
  • ‘Scream’, his third solo album was released in 2009. He toured North and South America, Europe and a total of 21 nations which included a triumphant open-air show in Tel Aviv.
  • In 2010, ‘Soundgarden’ made a historic reunion during Chicago's Lollapalooza festival, and released their retrospective album, ‘Telephantasm’. They have been touring Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America since then.
  • A series of acclaimed solo acoustic shows took place as part of the 'Songbook' tour between 2009 and 2011, through the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South America and received universally positive reviews.
  • In 2011, he released, ‘The Keeper’, an original song written for the film, ‘Machine Gun Preacher’. Initially, the song was exclusively available as part of the ‘Donate to Download’ campaign for children's charity in Africa.
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  • He released an acoustic live album ‘Songbook’ in late 2011; it was his first live album as a solo artist and featured songs recorded during Cornell's 'Songbook' tour in North America. He continued his ‘Songbook’ tour in 2012-13, and performed at many venues in Europe and the US.
  • *In September 2015, he released a studio album ‘Higher Truth.’ It received generally favorable reviews from music critics.
  • His last solo release before his untimely death was the charity single ‘The Promise,’ released in March 2017.
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Major Works
  • ‘Superunknown’, Soundgarden’s breakthrough album released in 1994, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. It had several successful singles, such as, ‘Spoonman’ and ‘Black Hole Sun’, which earned them international recognition.
  • The self-titled debut album, ‘Audioslave’, released in 2002, entered the Billboard 200 chart at number seven and achieved triple platinum status having sold more than three million copies in the United States alone.
Awards & Achievements
  • Between 1994 and 1995, ‘Soundgarden’ won the MTV Video Music Award for, ‘Black Hole Sun’, in the Best Metal/Hard Rock Video and Best Hard Rock categories and, ‘Spoonman’, in the Best Metal Performance category.
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  • ‘You Know My Name’, from Casino Royale won the World Soundtrack Awards in 2007 for the Best Original Song Written Directly for a Film and the Satellite Award for the Best Original Song, the previous year.
  • From 1990 to 2011, he was nominated several times for the Grammy Awards for his solo work or through his bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, in the Best Rock or Best Hard Rock categories.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Chris Cornell first married Susan Silver, the manager of ‘Soundgarden’. They divorced in 2004. His second marriage was to Vicky Karayiannis, a Paris-based American publicist. He has two daughters and a son from his marriages.
  • In 2012, he and Vicky created the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to protect the most vulnerable children, to mobilize support for children facing tough challenges including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
  • He was found dead in his hotel room at the MGM Grand in Detroit on May 18, 2017. He had performed at a show with Soundgarden at the Fox Theatre just the previous evening. The cause of his death was determined to be suicide by hanging. He was 52 years old.
  • This famous rock icon once said: ‘I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s what entertainment and music should be’.
  • This famous singer was the face of fashion producer John Varvatos' ad campaign and recently became a restaurateur with the opening of his restaurant, ‘Black Calavados’, in Paris.


ASCAP Film And Television Music Awards
2007 Top Box Office Films Casino Royale (2006)

See the events in life of Chris Cornell in Chronological Order

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Last Updated
- November 26, 2017

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