Originally finding success as the singer/frontman of Seattles Soundgarden, Chris Cornell also forged a successful solo career after the bands 1997 demise. Born in Seattle on July 20, 1964, Cornells music career didnt take shape until he was a teenager, playing drums in bands that mixed punk/new wave (the Police) and metal (AC/DC) covers. Although he spent most of his teenage years withdrawn and as a loner, rock music helped Cornell overcome his uneasiness around others. After dropping out of high school and working as a cook, Cornell formed a band that, with a few lineup changes, would become the great and influential Soundgarden by the mid-80s. Cornell switched to vocals around the time of the bands formation, with friend Hiro Yamamoto on bass, Kim Thayil on guitar, and eventually, Matt Cameron on drums.
Along with the Melvins, Soundgarden was one of the first rock bands to slow down punks youthful energy to a Black Sabbath-like crawl. First issuing a few releases on independent labels (Sub Pops Screaming Life and Fopp EPs, SSTs Ultramega OK), Soundgarden was one of the first bands of the late-80s Seattle underground to sign with a major label, A&M, which issued Louder Than Love in 1989. After the albums release, however, Yamamoto left and was first replaced by ex-Nirvana member Jason Everman, and eventually permanently by Ben Shepherd. With Soundgardens quintessential lineup in place, the band rightfully became one of rocks most popular bands on the strength of such albums as 1991s Badmotorfinger, 1994s Superunknown, and 1996s Down on the Upside. With each album, Cornells singing grew stronger and stronger and farther away from the heavy metal screaming of the bands early work and more toward a true singing style. Cornell also showed a great talent for lyric-writing; while his lyrics wouldnt make sense if read without the music, they evoked all kinds of images when he put the two together.
Besides Cornells vast talents displayed with Soundgarden, he organized a tribute for late Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood in the form of 1990s Temple of the Dog project, which was far more stripped-down. Cornells first officially released solo composition, the acoustic Seasons, was the highlight of the 1992 motion picture soundtrack Singles. His bluesy voice also worked amazingly well on a superb cover of Jimi Hendrixs Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) on the 1993 Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix compilation (under the pseudonym MACC). He also found time to pen songs for other acts, such as Flotsam & Jetsam and Alice Cooper, as well as producing the Screaming Trees 1991 release Uncle Anesthesia. After Soundgardens demise in April of 1997, Cornell slowly but surely began to put a solo album together with his friends from the band Eleven.
Finally issued in 1999, Euphoria Morning was a departure from his former bands sound, as it was in a more singer/songwriter mold, which focused more on Cornells vocals and lyrics than meaty guitar riffs. Shortly after its release, Cornell launched his first solo tour, mixing songs from all eras of his career. After wrapping up the aforementioned tour in early 2000, a tepid remix of the Euphoria Morning track Mission (retitled Mission 2000) was included on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack. It appeared as though Cornell would take a break from music for a while, as his wife gave birth to the couples first child in June of the same year, but by late 2000, Cornell found himself involved in a project that promised to be a classic hard rock collaboration.
Rage Against the Machine decided not to break up after longtime vocalist Zack de la Rocha left the band that winter, but rather they would find another singer and carry on under a different name. Cornell accepted an invitation to jam and pen a few songs (which former Rage guitarist Tom Morello described as really groundbreaking) and, shortly thereafter, officially joined forces with the former Rage members under the moniker Audioslave. Produced by Rick Rubin, the bands self-titled debut arrived in November 2002 and went multi-platinum. The follow-up, 2005s Out of Exile, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and was followed by the platinum-selling Revelations in 2006. Cornell left the band that same year, citing the usual irreconcilable differences, and began work on his second solo record, 2007s Carry On, a topical, biographical, and musically confused whirlwind featuring a cover version of Michael Jacksons Billy Jean and You Know My Name from the Bond movie Casino Royale.