Like many of you, I’m still trying to process the sudden death of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell last week. Here in Seattle, where Cornell was born, there were several memorials held around the city including one at the site that inspired the band’s name—A Sound Garden—a musical sculpture park where twelve 20+ foot structures outfitted with organ pipes emanate with sound whenever the wind blows. After Cornell passed, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron posted a heart-wrenching comment on his Facebook page saying “My dark knight is gone,” a sentiment that hit entirely too close to home for those who knew Cornell as well as those who often suffer in silence—forever searching for ways to deal with their own depression and anxiety.
At an impromptu memorial held at the radio station KEXP on the day of Cornell’s death, 400 people showed up to collectively grieve at the station’s gathering space. While addressing the crowd, long-time DJ John Richards said that “part of the city (of Seattle) had died” that day. Often, music is something that can be hugely helpful and cathartic when you’re trying to make sense of unfathomable events such as Cornell’s impossibly sad, untimely passing. And that is exactly the purpose of my post today—to share Soundgarden’s legacy by way of their sonic, ear-smashing music.
Though I know your social media feeds have likely been filled with news about the legendary vocalist, I really wanted to support as well as spread the idea of celebrating Cornell’s life and his work with Soundgarden, who are/were without question one of the greatest rock bands of the last 30 years. A large part of their appeal was, of course, the animal magnetism of Chris Cornell’s stage presence and his immaculate four-octave vocal range. Cornell was also the primary lyricist for Soundgarden, which helped solidify his deep connection to their fan base.
In light of the numerous impactful contributions the band has made since turning the music community on its ear back in the early 80s, I’m excited to share early footage of the band performing at the Whisky a Go-Go in 1990 in support of their second record, Louder Than Love. Full disclosure—the footage, which is shot in black in white, will make you feel like you are stumbling around in the mosh pit at the Whisky at times. But the sound quality is top notch and Cornell’s vocals are, as they always were, beyond compare, and at times almost beyond comprehension. The footage was released on a video called Soundgarden: Louder Than Live which is very worth tracking down. I highly recommend you turn this up as loudly as possible because that is exactly how you should listen to Soundgarden at all times. Lastly, I’d also suggest you pick up the just reissued pressing of the soundtrack for the 1992 film Singles that includes six songs from Cornell, including two previously unreleased songs “Ferry Boat #3,” and “Score Piece #4.”
Rest in Power, Chris Cornell.
Soundgarden live at the Whisky a Go-Go in 1990, part one.
Soundgarden live at the Whisky a Go-Go, part two.
Soundgarden live at the Whisky a Go-Go, part three.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mudhoney’s album-length homage to Seattle’s garage rock heroes the Sonics
‘No Nirvana’: Jane’s Addiction, Sonic Youth, Screaming Trees & more live on UK TV in the early 90s
Never-before-seen photos of Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Tad, 1989
A super glam-looking Layne Staley performing with his high school band ‘Sleze’ in 1985