Chris Cornell Statue Unveiled by Widow In Touching, Rain-Soaked Seattle Tribute

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Lily Cornell, Toni Cornell, Christopher Cornell, Vicky Cornell, Bill Hilf, Trevor Neilson and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan attend the public unveiling ceremony of the Chris Cornell statue at MoPOP on Oct. 7, 2018 in Seattle. 

This Sunday in Seattle began with clouds, descended into a rainy drizzle, and ended with the surviving family of rock legend Chris Cornell dedicating a statue to his memory. For most who gathered to commemorate the Soundgarden and Audioslave singer and songwriter, the weather seemed fitting.   

The director of Seattle's MoPOP Museum, the recipient of the Cornell family's donated statue, noted that "the clouds tonight somehow feel right for someone who brought us so much dark, beautiful music." Cornell's philanthropic partner Trevor Nielsen spoke to Cornell's lasting legacy by saying, "Chris is here in this mist with us today."   


But widow Vicky Cornell, who commissioned the sculpture by artist Nick Marra, offered a sunnier take: that Cornell was a "beautiful, powerful, incomparable" source of light. "He was the voice of a generation, and an artist that continues to draw us closer together, forever," she said before Chris' children Christopher, Toni, and Lily pulled the curtain back and revealed the six-foot bronze statue, adorned in Cornell's signature leather jacket and dog tags and sporting a beautiful, detailed Gibson guitar. (His signature howl is relegated to a single-photo mural situated perfectly behind the statue.)   

Vicky Cornell was perhaps the closest member of Chris's musical and personal families to speak at the statue's unveiling. The Cornell children elected to simply pull the statue's curtain off, while attending members of Soundgarden quietly offered fists and devil horns to the roaring crowd.

Vicky's speech ended with a sigh, followed by an earnest, Soundgarden-tinged appeal to the crowd: "I thank you for embracing and loving Chris so deeply. Thank you, Seattle, for the support and loudest love." The unveiling was followed by a packed-house, hour-long screening of a 2013 Soundgarden concert inside MoPOP's fittingly named Sky Church, where fans could scribble memories and thoughts in a series of quickly filled guestbooks.

At this screening, MoPOP revealed one more Cornell addition to its collection: a tour-worn Chris Cornell outfit, complete with leather jacket and hand-written lyrics to two Soundgarden classics. That kiosk should fit nicely next to MoPOP's exhibits dedicated to Seattle rock icons like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Jimi Hendrix.


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