We’ve dealt with this before, and every time we find ourselves confronted with this sad and seemingly meaningless experience—that of a singular talent being taken off of this earth unexpectedly early—I always hope that it will be the last time. When I say “we,” I am speaking broadly about the Seattle music scene that was such a big part of my life, and also of so many of my close and no-so-close friends who are also experiencing the same sense of loss. We all shared parts in the fabric of a historically unique thing that happened musically in Seattle, an era that I believe will never occur again the way that one did.
And apparently, suicide. The worst, because with that, there’s the added sense that somebody surely could have done something. But maybe nobody ever knew he was depressed, at least not to the edge where the ultimate act was something to be considered. Depression is a dark and overpowering force that can overtake all logic and completely overshadow everything that there is to be joyous about in life. I speak from experience. I know that half of my friends also understand. It’s one of those things that is near impossible to explain to people who have the good fortune to have never experienced debilitating depression. It’s an ugly horrible dark passenger that almost never fully goes away.
I don’t really have any point here. I am still shell-shocked. I am still in that invariable sense of denial that always hits first before the waves of deep sorrow crash in. Chris never seemed like a depressive to me. I can’t believe that he’s gone. I cannot believe that somewhere in his soul, he felt such a deep sense of desperation that this seemed like the only option that he had left. From the outside, his life appeared perfect, but from his inside, apparently, that’s not how it felt to him. I am just typing my feelings, not bothering to edit, just let it spill out. Damnit. This is so senseless.
I can still remember the very first time I saw Soundgarden. They were a three-piece and Chris was the drummer. He was also the singer, but the band had no front-man to speak of. A definite nod to Hüsker Dü, but even then in those very early days, they were a band that you knew had something special going on. Skin Yard was still a few months before we would play our first show, but even then, we shared some of the same ideas musically, and in time we played a slew of shows together, often being referred to as a sister band with them. Indeed, after our first drummer left us, Matt ended up in SG, where he has been pretty much ever since.
I can’t even imagine what Matt, Kim and Ben must be going through, much less his wife and kids. I know what many of the rest of us are going through and it’s not easy.
Chris was one of the most unique voices to emerge from the Seattle scene, absolutely one of the best two singers from that era and arguably one of the most immediately recognizable and iconic singer in hard rock. This one is really hard to fathom. I am so sad. I am glad that I got to see him late in 2015 for one last time. Thanks Karen, for taking me to that show.
Maybe this time really will be the last time. Be good to yourself; be good to the ones you love.
Chris’s wife has released a statement that she believes that his death may have been related to having taken too much Ativan, a drug that’s prescribed for anxiety. Side effects of Ativan (especially when taken in excess) can include paranoid or suicidal thoughts and slurred speech. “Vicky Cornell noted her husband’s slurred speech following the Detroit concert and stated that he told her that he ‘may have taken an extra Ativan or two.'”
Chris never seemed like a depressive to me, and so this explanation makes better sense in my mind. Not that it will bring him back. Thinking about his family and Matt, Kim & Ben.