As the lead singer of Soundgarden and later Audioslave and Temple Of The Dog, he was regarded as a pioneer and one of the most powerful voices in the rock world. Everyone from Dave Navarro to Jimmy Page has since paid their respects to the musician, who was in the midst of a tour with Soundgarden when he passed away.
Cornell has had more incredible moments both on stage and in the studio than we can count, but here we’ve cherry-picked some of the particularly amazing ones from a career that stretched nearly four decades.
Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’ Music Video
‘Black Hole Sun’ is the most iconic Soundgarden song, and it’s also accompanied by a video which encapsulates everything great about the early ’90s era of rock. It’s woozy, weird and wild, while the song has a chorus that captures Cornell’s vocal power better than any other.
When Dave Grohl was first played the song by producer Adam Casper when he was still in Nirvana, he thought, “Holy shit, this… will be enormously huge.”
He was right.
His Cover Of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’
Cornell’s solo career was often unexpected, as he traversed everything from Timbaland-produced R&B to stripped-back soul, but one of the poignant moments was this Michael Jackson cover. He stripped back the original and turned it into a haunting, bare-boned new version.
His ‘James Bond’ Theme
Another unexpected moment in Cornell’s solo career was when he was tapped to provide the theme song for James Bond: Casino Royale. He delivered with ‘You Know My Name’, a grandiose tune which combined his rock sensibilities with the typical Bond aesthetic. It’s without a doubt one of the more memorable recent Bond tunes.
Announcing Audioslave With ‘Cochise’
Audioslave combined Cornell with members of Rage Against The Machine after Zack De La Rocha left Rage. Rick Rubin suggested that Cornell join the group and reportedly the chemistry was undeniable. There were many points at which it almost didn’t happen, but ‘Cochise’ confirmed that they were here. It was a mighty rock song that was appropriately introduced with a fiery music video.
His Duet With Eddie Vedder
Cutting a long story short, members of Pearl Jam once played in a Seattle group called Mother Love Bone with a lead singer called Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose in 1990.
The members of the group recruited Eddie Vedder and they formed Pearl Jam. Cornell wrote a number of songs dedicated to Wood and recorded them with Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and members of Pearl Jam, under the name Temple Of The Dog.
‘Hunger Strike’ was a duet between Vedder and Cornell which gained recognition once Pearl Jam found popularity. The voices of Cornell and Vedder together is unbeatable.
Soundgarden’s Latest Visit To Australia
Soundgarden last toured Australia in 2015 for Soundwave Festival and some sideshows. Throughout the tour, the band gifted Aussie audiences with rarities. Sydney was treated to a particularly special performance, with the band dropping ‘Fell On Black Days’ B-side ‘Kyle Petty, Son Of Richard)’ live for the very first time.
The First Two-And-A-Half Minutes Of ‘Spoonman’
One of Soundgarden’s more commercially successful songs also gave us a chance to hear Cornell’s voice in all its glory. It features an LA street performer, Artis, who plays the spoons, and for the first two-and-a-half minutes of this song it’s just Artis and Cornell. It gives us a chance to hear Cornell’s voice soar.
His Cover Of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
Before Prince passed away last year, Cornell covered one of his most notable songs, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, stripping it back to an acoustic guitar and strings. It’s yet another opportunity to hear his vocals in full swing, and one of the more stirring Prince covers of the past few years.