Chris Cornell's Last Tweet Shows Just How Surprising His Death Was Last Night at 52

Chris Cornell at the KROQ Weenie Roast Y Fiesta on May 5, 2012, at The Verizon Ampitheater in Irvine, California (AP Photo/Katy Winn)
Chris Cornell at the KROQ Weenie Roast Y Fiesta on May 5, 2012, at The Verizon Ampitheater in Irvine, California (AP Photo/Katy Winn)

When a celebrity dies unexpectedly, there’s a strange new ritual that fans partake in as we remember the person’s contributions to our lives. We scour the internet for social media posts for a glimpse of their last moments. In the case of Chris Cornell, the lead singer for Soundgarden who died last night at the age of 52, we have his last tweet.

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The tweet was posted at 8:06pm Eastern time and showed the marquee in Detroit just before his last show. At just 52-years-old, we assumed Cornell had a long life ahead. Brian Bumbery, a representative for Cornell, told the Associated Press that his death was “sudden and unexpected.”

Update, 6:03am: Local news in Detroit are reporting that it was a possible suicide:

Sources confirm to 7 Action News that Cornell died at MGM Grand Detroit following a show at Fox Theatre. Detroit police say it appears he died from a possible suicide.

Police say Cornell’s wife called a family friend and asked him to check on his well-being. The friend forced opened the door and found Cornell on the bathroom floor, according to police. We’re told Cornell was pronounced dead on the scene.

Update, 2:37pm: The medical examiner has determined that Cornell’s death was indeed suicide by hanging. If you or someone you know is thinking about or threatening suicide, please tell someone. The suicide hotline in the US is 1-800-273-8255. International numbers can be found here.

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Aside from Cornell’s own tweets, we also have the social media posts of fans who saw last night’s Soundgarden concert.

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Chris Cornell was a huge part of my teenage years as I was discovering rock music in the mid-1990s. And I loved the music that would come to be regarded by the previous generation, Generation X, as not nearly as cool as Soundgarden’s “earlier work.”

The 1996 album Down on the Upside was derided by critics, and Cornell’s first solo album, 1999's Euphoria Morning, was considered deeply uncool. But to me they were magic. They were the soundtrack of a depressed teenager who had narrowly missed the “cool” era of grunge in the early 90s. Even after Soundgarden split in 1997, Cornell continued making amazing music for kids like me.

Naturally, people are taking to social media to mourn in their own ways. The cause of death has not been determined and the Cornell’s family has asked for privacy.

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RIP Chris Cornell.

Matt Novak is a senior writer at Gizmodo and founder of Paleofuture.com. He's writing a book about the movies U.S. presidents watched at the White House, Camp David, and on Air Force One.

DISCUSSION

loserxbaby
Loser Baby

In high school I was obsessed with grunge. Nirvana was this gateway band into a whole slew of angsty, sludge fueled goodness, and Soundgarden was especially huge for me. I remember one day in particular, I had bought two albums that became instant classics for me and I still hold dear- Radiohead’s OK Computer and Soundgarden’s Superunknown. I listened to them- back to back- on my black futon at my dad’s house and I was so excited because I wondered what other amazing albums are out there that I haven’t even heard yet.

It was around this time that Audioslave was blowing up and I have this particularly cool memory where I went to see them with my friends and a classmate, Cathy Ng, just wanders into the pit like it’s nothing at all, even though she doesn’t have pit tickets. So we all crowd around her to hide that she doesn’t have a wristband just so she could watch the band up close.

Finally, in 2010, I was able to see Soundgarden live at Lollapalooza in Chicago. It was a high anxiety moment for me because Arcade Fire was going up at the same time, so my friends and I decided to catch half of Soundgarden and half of Arcade Fire. In a great stroke of luck, Soundgarden played most of my favorite tracks in the first half of their set, almost as if to be merciful for the indecisive people who wanted to catch both main acts that night.

My point being that whether it was any of those moments above or whether it was me blasting my burned copy of “Down on the Upside” on my Walkman CD player as I stomped the halls of my high school, completely ripping apart his flirtation with pop relevance on his Timbaland produced solo album with my friends, or watching Audioslave play Cuba on DVD with my best friend in my old garage- Chris Cornell’s voice had been soundtracking a huge swath of my life, and reading that initial headline was like a punch in the gut. Thanks for the memories. Rest in peace.