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Chris Cornell: Soundgarden’s dark knight of the grunge-music scene

That voice.

It demanded that you listen, no matter where you were. In an airport, a crowded bar or a sold-out theater.

It was low and smooth, rising from under a drape of curls, or a bare-throated, roof-scraping howl. It could effortlessly ride a churning, thundering wave of sound that rose and fell, but never broke.

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Free, confidential help is available to anyone thinking about suicide:

• King County’s 24-hour, toll-free crisis line: 866-427-4747, 206-461-3222. Online:

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For information about suicide prevention and warning signs:

Chris Cornell sang for the last time Wednesday night in Detroit. Hours later, the Soundgarden frontman was found dead in the bathroom of his hotel room. A medical examiner said he died by hanging. Suicide. He was just 52.

It is an awful refrain in this city of music, something we thought we had lived through and grown away from after the untimely losses of homegrown Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley.

But no.

And so we hold onto each other and talk about what Cornell meant to our city, our sound, ourselves.

“Chris Cornell painted in song the darkness and beauty of life in Seattle,” said Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.

Cornell could do that because he was born here, one of six children whose parents divorced when he was young. He attended Christ the King Catholic elementary school and Shorewood High School.

In a 2013 interview with The Seattle Times in advance of a solo acoustic show at Benaroya Hall, Cornell spoke of feeling “super disenfranchised” as a teenager and being a “super emotionally intense kid with bouts of depression and anxiety. And that

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