Hailing from Seattle, Chris Cornell first found fame as the frontman for Soundgarden. After the band ran its course and dissolved in 1997, Cornell signed on with Audioslave, an alt-rock supergroup, while also pursuing a solo career.
Growing up in Seattle, Cornell found music as a teen, playing drums in a cover band. Dropping out of high school, he worked as a cook and started putting together the pieces of Soundgarden. Along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden was one of the most influential bands to come out of the grunge era. The group initially consisted of Cornell on lead vocals, Hiro Yamamoto on bass, Kim Thayil on guitar, and Matt Cameron on drums.
Soundgarden signed with A&M and released Louder Than Love in 1989. Soon enough, Yamamoto was replaced by ex-Nirvana member Jason Everman, then Ben Shepherd. With a solid lineup locked down, Soundgarden was off to the races with hugely successful albums including 1991's Badmotorfinger, 1994's Superunknown, and 1996's Down on the Upside. Cornell's multi-octave range proved to be a powerful force.
On the side, Cornell pulled together 1990's Temple of the Dog benefit project and started releasing solo works like the acoustic "Seasons" which was on the soundtrack to Singles in 1992. Other contributions and collaborations found Cornell offering a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" to the Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix compilation, as well as writing tunes for other artists such as Flotsam & Jetsam and Alice Cooper. He also produced the 1991 Screaming Trees' release, Uncle Anesthesia.
Once Soundgarden was over, Cornell started making moves toward his official solo debut backed by the band Eleven. Euphoria Morning came in 1999 and shifted the focus away from edgy guitars and toward Cornell's vocals as well as the songs themselves. In support of the album, Cornell embarked upon his first solo tour which included selections from his entire discography.
In late 2000, Cornell took up with former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. The pair got together for a few jam/writing sessions which led to the formation of Audioslave with the other former Ragers, save vocalist Zack de la Rocha.
Rick Rubin signed on to produce the band's eponymous debut which dropped in late 2002 and achieved multi-platinum sales status. Their second outing, 2005's Out of Exile, debuted in the top seat of the Billboard charts. To complete the trifecta, 2006's Revelations also went platinum. Still, Cornell took his leave.
Back in his solo career, Cornell issued Carry On in 2007 which featured a cover of Michael Jackson's “Billie Jean.” To support the album, Cornell opened for Aerosmith and Linkin Park on various legs of their tours. Two new Timbaland-produced singles, "Ground Zero" and "Watch Out," were released as downloads a year later.
Cornell partnered with Timbaland for his third solo effort, as well. The 2009 release, Scream, was loaded with an R&B vibe on top of a drum machine foundation. Critics didn't think too much of the set despite Timbaland proclaiming that it was "the best work I've done in my career" and Cornell describing it as "a highlight of my career." Fans, though, got it to number 10 on the Billboard album chart.
In early 2010, Cornell used Twitter to announce a possible Soundgarden reunion: "The 12-year break is over and school is back in session. Sign up now. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!" Various appearances – at Lollapalooza and on Conan O'Brien – were sprinkled throughout the year.