Chris Cornell leaves legacy, sadness in Seattle

Chris Cornell was a giant in the music scene. In addition to his work with Soundgarden, he was also the lead singer of Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. Cornell passed away at 52.

Editor's note: This story has been re-published to note that July 20 would be Chris Cornell's 53rd birthday. 

If there was a sound synonymous with Seattle, it is Chris Cornell.

Cornell's four-octave voice was distinctive and woven into the city's landscape before he died May 18 at the age of 52.

"For me, personally, I'm pretty devastated," says longtime KEXP DJ John Richards. "How do you sum up his voice? He's THE voice of Seattle in my opinion, born and raised in Seattle, that voice, unlike any other voice. It just cut through everything else you heard on the radio dial."

Richards blew out his planned coverage that Thursday morning and played Cornell-fronted songs. 

"Their name weaves into the fabric – Soundgarden – that’s so Seattle right?" Richards said. "They may be the most Seattle band of all the Seattle bands."

In fact, the name came from the Sound Garden by Magnuson Park. That's where Sasha Melnik was - with his iPod, listening to "Fell on Black Days."

"First song I heard was Outshined, still remember it, seventh grade right around Christmas time, and it blew my mind," said Melnik. "It's depressing the emotions and thoughts he must have had."

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There are similar stories elsewhere. Discovery Park was the background of the Cornell-led "Hunger Strike" music video for Temple of the Dog.

Raphael Artieda visited the Black Sun at Volunteer Park, which has long rumored to have been an inspiration for "Black Hole Sun," one of Soundgarden's iconic songs.

"When you listen to the song, and you're in Seattle," said Artieda, "The weather, the people – it's very representative...(It's) slightly cold, foggy, a little melancholic undertone you could feel."

Related: Condolences pour in for late Seattle rocker Chris Cornell

Richards says he felt a personal connection with Cornell.  

"He battled with depression and alcoholism, and he seemed to have won those battles, for a long time, really impacted people beyond his music," Richards said. "I battled depression all my life. Chris Cornell was an inspiration to me." 

But he says Cornell's passing also makes him sad, because of his connection to all those locations in a city that continues to change.

"We're dealing with changes, a lot of changes in this city," Richards told his listeners. "He represents the past and the present for Seattle."

© 2017 KING-TV


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