In Memory of Chris Cornell

Yesterday, Chris Cornell died by suicide. It shook me. It’s still shaking me. He was fifty-one, married, two children, and was on tour with the band that made him famous, and he hanged himself alone in a hotel room.

Chris was one of my  heroes–easily among the top five rock vocalists of my lifetime. His range, rasp, and pitch were remarkable. Even more remarkable was the way he wove words and melodies into meaningful, moving songs. Rock music is hard to write for, and he was a master.

I struggle with depression and anxiety. I’m guessing Chris did, too—and it’s shocking and horrifying to me that a man who seemed to embody success on almost every level could be dismantled by that struggle. My wife texted me today: He brought light into this world through his creativity. You connect with that, not his demise. And she’s right—the absence of that light hurts. But how it was extinguished hurts even more.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, other than to vent. To externalize my unreasonable feeling of loss for a person I never knew. These words aren’t enough. No words are. To his family and friends: I am so sorry for your loss. To fellow fans: we have a massive body of work to enjoy. Through his music, Chris is immortal.

If you’re reading this and you’re feeling suicidal, please consider calling someone first. A friend, a loved one, a hotline.



Even when you’ve paid enough

Been pulled apart
Or been held up
Every single memory of
The good or bad, faces of love
Don’t lose any sleep tonight
I’m sure everything will end up alright
You may win or lose
But to be yourself is all that you can do

-Chris Cornell, July 20, 1964 – May 17, 2017

chris cornell

Jeff Garvin

Author of SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN and THE LIGHTNESS OF HANDS. Cohost of THE HERO'S JOURNEY podcast. Rock musician, D&D geek, aspiring revolutionary.

Comments (2)

  • If life was a garden. We struggle to keep it beautiful until the day we don’t. That beauty inspires others and fuels our own desires. That beauty is this unique introspective reflection of us. And it can shine. Lighting the way for others to tend their own gardens. With his music, his family, Chris will shine forever. As will we all, in our own ways.

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