Legendary Musician Chris Cornell Dies


DETROIT (Combined Sources) — As music fans everywhere mourn the sudden loss of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, his family is raising questions about the circumstances behind his death.

Cornell, 52, was found dead On May 17 after a concert in Detroit. The Wayne County medical examiner’s office declared his death a suicide by hanging.

The renowned, Grammy-winning Seattle grunge rocker left behind a wife and three children.

Vicky Cornell issued a statement in which she expressed concerns that her husband’s medication — the anti-anxiety benzodiazepine known commercially as Ativan — may have impacted his judgment.

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

Kirk Pasich, an attorney for the Cornell family, said in the statement that the rocker was a recovering addict and speculated that he may have taken more benzodiazepines on Wednesday than the dosage recommended.

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“The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,” said Pasich.

No toxicology reports have been released yet.

“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details,” said Vicky Cornell. “I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”

Vicky Cornell said in the statement that just before his death, her husband Chris had spoken of vacation plans over the phone.

“When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do,” said Cornell, stating that Chris Cornell had taken a break from the tour to fly home for Mother’s Day and had flown to Detroit on Wednesday, the day of his death.

She called the death “inexplicable” and said Chris Cornell was a “devoted father and husband.”

Topics: Obituary

“The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know,” Vicky Cornell said. “Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”

He also left behind three kids, ages 16, 12 and 11.

“Chris’s death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend. His world revolved around his family first and of course, his music, second,” Vicky said.

Just one month before his death, the legendary rocker walked the red carpet with his wife and family for the final time to promote a passion project with family ties.

The former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman wrote and performed the end-title song for “The Promise,” a film that addressed the Armenian Genocide. On April 18 he attended a screening of the film at New York’s Paris Theater with his wife, Vicky Karayiannis, and their two children: daughter Toni, 12, and son Christopher, 11.

“Throughout the making of ‘The Promise,’ Chris Cornell was an inspiration and a friend, and the beautiful song he gave us captured the aspirations and spirit of the Armenian people. The world can ill afford to lose such a kind and gifted soul. Thank you Chris,” “The Promise” director Terry George told PEOPLE Thursday.

Cornell said at the L.A. premiere the project moved him because his wife’s Greek family was also impacted by the WWI genocide that wiped out roughly 1.5 million Armenians.

“One of my close friends is the producer of the film, who’s Armenian, Eric Esrailian. My wife is Greek. Her grandparents were actually refugees from the same period of Greek refugees, the same policy,” he said. “If neither of those things existed, it would still be something that I would want to be a part of and be able to have the opportunity to write a song for such an impactful, and what I think of as an important film.”

And as project that was truly near and dear to Cornell’s heart, Esrailian said it was clear to see “how much he cared about the song and the film.”

“He poured his heart and soul into the song … when you see him perform it live you could just see it. It means so much to me that he was so dedicated,” said the producer.

The legendary rocker promoted the film across the globe in the weeks before his death, attending the Los Angeles premiere on April 12 and the London premiere on April 6 — where he was photographed with fellow attendee George Clooney.

Cornell, who also had a 16-year-old daughter, Lillian, from his first marriage to former Soundgarden manager Susan Silver, has talked about how becoming a hands-on parent profoundly changed his life.

“Wiping your kids’ faces, washing their hands, changing their diapers — that kind of hands-on care creates a deep connection you otherwise wouldn’t have,” he told Newsweek in 2007.

That tight bond seemed to continue as his babies turned into tweens, and the proud father looked thrilled when daughter Toni joined him onstage for a duet during a New York City concert in 2015.

“I came from a childhood where I spent a lot of time alone and a lot of time just living with my imagination, and a certain amount of the adult world was kind of alienating,” he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2006. “And I find now after spending a lot of time with my babies, they’re my best friends. And I still find a certain part of the adult world alienating, so I’d rather just hang out with my kids.”

He was scheduled to be buried in Los Angeles this week.

(NBC news and People contributed to this report.)

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