The fact that Chris [Cornell] had such a recognizable sound at such young age and the ease with which he was able to project that range — we hadn’t seen anything like that and we haven’t seen anything like it since. And he was at the forefront of true musicianship in that era, backed up with depth. At that time, let’s just say there were a lot of really technically skilled prodigies gravitating toward a type of music that didn’t have as much depth to it and was more about flash. And you had bands with more substance but less ability on the instrument. Soundgarden had both. And Chris was the one guy that made everybody lean back and go, “Oh my god, this guy is unbelievable, real deal, going down in the history books.”
Chris was so the antithesis of that voice in his quiet, reserved way. Which created a lot of mystique. I remember in 2003 Jane’s Addiction was on tour with Audioslave for Lollapalooza, and Chris and I were both clean from drugs and alcohol and we invited kids from treatment centers at different spots in the country to hang out backstage and just show them you can do what we do and enjoy touring and the music without being loaded. That’s what makes this so very hard to wrap my head around. This is a guy who was involved in making the world a better place for people.
I just can’t believe that all these people I came up with are gone: Scott [Weiland], Kurt [Cobain], Layne [Staley], now Chris. All my friends are dying. How is it possible?
As told to Rebecca Milzoff.