Alice Cooper on Writing With Chris Cornell and How the Late Singer Reminded Him of Paul McCartney

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Alice Cooper presents the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award to honoree Chris Cornell at the 3rd Annual MusiCares MAP fund benefit at the Music Box in the Henry Fonda Theater on May 11, 2007 in Los Angeles.

I'd heard "Black Hole Sun,” and some other Soundgarden tracks, and I'm always looking to write lyrics with other artists.  The whole thing with "Black Hole Sun" in particular is that it was, to me, equal to a Beatles song. And he had a voice that was very rock n' roll but still radio-friendly; he once told me that radio loved his voice. 

He had the unique combination of having a hard rock voice that was also as commercial as a Paul McCartney voice. Chris used his voice much as I use mine, whether on a more "punk" song, or a more hard rock song, or a ballad.  Working with him was so easy because we could pick a voice for each song, the way a guitarist might pick either a Fender Strat or a Gibson Les Paul. To go from "Unholy War" to "Stolen Prayer" [from 1994's The Last Temptation] together, two entirely different songs, proved his range, his versatility, in both writing and singing.

In every genre of music there are exceptional people, and whereas that Seattle movement had its own distinct sound, he could do that and so much more. Working with Chris was, for me, effortless. When we got together to write it seemed like either he was in my band or I was in his. 

As told to Rebecca Milzoff.