These are words I never thought I would type: Chris Cornell has passed away.
But instead of focusing on his death, I want to celebrate what he means to me and so many others.
I grew up in a Pearl Jam house. With that, came the expectation I knew Chris Cornell.
Obviously he is the man who invited Eddie Vedder to do guest vocals on a tribute album for another fallen friend, Andy Wood. He also fronted the band SoundGarden who would later share a drummer with Pearl Jam.
There are numerous examples. Fast forward to 2008: the first time I saw him perform live. He opened for Linkin Park on their 2008 Projekt Revolution Tour. He played a mixture of solo songs, Soundgarden songs, and Audioslave songs. The biggest surprise was a version of Hunger Strike featuring Chester Bennington from Linkin Park doing Eddie Vedder’s part. They nailed it. Their harmonies were beautiful. Their timing was perfect.
In 2011, Pearl Jam celebrated 20 years as a band. My family and I flew to Wisconsin for the celebration shows. There was rumor of a Temple of the Dog reunion. On the way to the airport, I read a tweet from Chris Cornell that said “Just landed in Chicago. Now what?” My mom and I screamed, looked at each other, and screamed again. We knew the reunion was happening. Sure enough, it happened. The original line-up of the band was on stage in front of me and even performed my favorite Mother Love Bone song “Stardog Champion.” My mother and I still quote that tweet to this day.
Just last week, on May 6, 2017, I had the opportunity to shoot SoundGarden in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was the band’s first time ever playing there. Cornell said, “We will definitely be back… Not in a month or anything, but we will be back.” That really hits me in the heart.
As I sit here in a hotel room in Tulsa, Oklahoma, gearing up for Hanson’s annual Fan-Club weekend (yes, THAT Hanson) I am remembering how much of an impact Chris had on everyone around him. His voice was like no other. I always try to sing “Cochise” in the car, but no one can imitate such a unique voice. Many have tried.
He was one of the faithful leaders of the Grunge movement and influenced so many people to pursue music.
As the news starts to unravel throughout the day, let’s not jump to conclusions. Instead, let us all try to remember our moments we had with him, whether it be the time you first heard him sing, or the time you met him, or when you first saw him live in whatever incarnation he was with. Most importantly, let us always remember the music. It is what will get us through this. We have it forever.
Say Hello 2 Heaven, Chris Cornell. Also, please teach Jesus the pose. I think he will get a kick out of it.