I never was a big fan, but I respected Chris Cornell and I feel shocked by the news and compelled to say a few words in the light of this tragedy.
The circumstances surrounding this cannot be sadder: a musician in his 50s-killing himself no matter how you put it-with some dark medication stuff involved-when nothing seemed to show problems and there was even a new album from his seminal band in the wings.
Another factor that adds to the shock for me is that I always considered Cornell one of those members of the rock community who "played it safe", in a Foo Fighters kind of way. And this is not said as a criticism, I think the forest needs all kinds of birds and trees, and it's a good thing for the whole if there are a few bands out there that go mainstream and fill stadiums and are listened to and considered acceptable by the "stiffer ones". Different human views create different kinds of music and flavors, and to me both the stances "hey people, this world fucking sucks let's change it", and the one that goes "I'm going to have a professional musician career, let's try this rock field, it looks like fun", are perfectly valid, as long as the songs are there. The results, in the end, are that new music is being made.
I valued Cornell mostly as a performer, his very recognizable vocal style (the way he phrases at the end of "Like a stone" gives me instant chills every time). As a composer, I liked "Black Hole Sun", "Spoonman" and "Break my Rusty Cage". The titles may be approximate because like I say I never was a giant fan, although many of my friends swore by Soundgarden.
I never knew he was having such a difficult time, with anxiety medication, or that he had been into heavy addiction. In any case, all I can say is this is total shit. This is the XXIst century, being in your 50s is still being young; he had a lot to contribute and the world really needs distinct voices, models like his. No matter if he really meant to kill himself or it was some kind of drug-induced hypnosis as the family seems to think, the motto "was found dead in his house/hotel room" is getting disgustingly common among musicians, I think enough is enough.
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it