The moment you become enthralled with someone’s music and relegate yourself to fandom is a moment that is hard to forget—like a jolt of emotional lightning that surges through your being and creates intense joy, inspiring admiration and worship of an artist and his or her music. It’s not always easily explained, but it is instantaneous, undiluted, and purely truthful. It happened to me the very first time I heard Soundgarden, and the voice of Chris Cornell.
There is nowhere to begin but at the beginning: I was soon about to complete my contract with the U.S. Navy and a fellow shipmate of mine had convinced me to attend a random gathering at some random sailor’s apartment in February 1990 in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach Tidewater area of Virginia. Many events such as this consisted of not much more than a cooler of beer and a stereo playing Top 40 tunes in the background. However, we were a geographically diverse crowd, and sometimes attendees would share music from friends’ bands back home. A guy I didn’t even know yelled, “Hey everybody listen up! This is my buddy Kim’s band from back home in Seattle. They just signed to a major label recently!” I even remember the song; it was “Hands All Over” from the Louder Than Love album. It was the first time I had ever heard Soundgarden, and 27 years later, I am still a fan.
Being a loyal devotee for nearly three decades makes the news of Chris Cornell’s passing that much harder and devastating. I am purely and utterly gutted. We lost so many musical legends last year, but I felt like Chris Cornell was a contemporary— only three years older than I am—and he seemed to have so much life ahead of him. I had the pleasure of being a witness to his rise from obscurity towards success, and his loss is overwhelming.
I am not one who puts musicians atop lofty, untouchable pedestals, though every once in a while, I stand back in awestruck astonishment of an individual’s talent. Because of his genius and lyrical insight, his depth, and his ability to deliver his lyrics in that one-of-a-kind, gut-wrenching voice, Chris Cornell was a giant to me. A legend.
And now he is gone.
Carry on into the super unknown Chris, may you find the peace that you are seeking. We are so grateful for you; your music was there for us, I just wish that someone, maybe even one of us fans, could have been there for you. Say “Hello 2 Heaven” (and Andy) Chris, we’re going to miss you.
[This tribute was written by Soundgarden superfan and frequent Eo8 contributor, Hunter MacLeod.]