Many a modern journalist is guilty of overstating the importance and impact of the Grunge scene of the early nineties, trying to attribute to it the same status as the UK punk scene of the 70’s or even the Beatles/Stones led British Invasion of the 60’s. However it is undeniable that it’s has left a lasting effect on rock music and played a huge part in many people’s lives.
It is also perhaps more than any other scene defined by death. With the sad passing of Chris Cornell, it means that 4 of the 5 main Frunfe bands have now lost their lead singer much too soon. Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley and even Scott Weiland had a sad inevitability to their deaths but Chris Cornell’s was completely out of the blue, so much so that you could almost imagine him tweeting a denial of the news reports.
Kurt Cobain famously quoted Neil Young’s lyric ‘it’s better to burn out than fade away’ in his suicide note, and it has become something of the ethos of the Seattle scene, Chris Cornell however had seemed to refuse to do either. From early success with Soundgarden (and Black Hole Sun is possibly the second most iconic song of the Grunge era), through the stadium sized rock of Audioslave and into his own solo career where he even sang a Bond theme tune, Cornell was always there or thereabouts a perennial figure, never the biggest star but never irrelevant either. It was easy to invisage him onstage with Soundgarden in years to come playing Grunge nostalgia tours alongside Pearl Jam, selling out arenas and stunning crowds with his incredible voice. It was one that once heard live was hard to forget. Of course that is now just the stuff of fantasy, unless you believe in heaven, in which case there’s a hell of Grunge revival tour going on up there. Maybe someone should go and wrap Eddie Vedder up in cotton wool before they decide they want to complete the set…
Whatever happens after we die though at least those of us still alive can be thankful that the music lives on, so don your flannel shirts one more time and raise a glass to Chris Cornell. RIP.