Chris Cornell, the frontman of Soundgarden and Audioslave, died after a Wednesday night concert at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. The 52-year-old was found unresponsive in his hotel bathroom. Officials have determined his cause of death was suicide, the Associated Press reported.
Cornell was the lead singer and guitarist of Soundgarden, one of the biggest 1990s grunge bands, according to Rolling Stone.
But it was Cornell's wide-ranging and distinctive vocals that led to his unofficial title as the voice of a generation. And when Soundgarden announced its most recent tour, fans jumped at the chance to see one of their idols perform.
In fact, the next few scheduled shows in Ohio and Colorado were sold out.
However, during Cornell's final few performances before his sudden death, fans noticed something was “off” with the rock legend.
While watching Soundgarden's May 7 show at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, fans were not only taken aback by Cornell's demeanor, but also by his surprisingly underwhelming performance.
Lauri Goodling, an editor at Independent Journal Review, caught the Sunday night show. She told IJR that everyone in the audience was collectively buzzing with excitement to see such an iconic singer perform.
But Cornell did not deliver:
“His energy was just off. He seemed like he was just going through the motions on stage and not really present.”
She also said he barely made his call time, simply showing up when it was demanded of him:
“He wasn't late on stage, but he literally rolled in 15 minutes before his performance. He wasn't even part of the festival environment at all. We were there for four different performers before Soundgarden came on stage, and that's the only bus we saw pull up so late.”
However, Goodling said she figured his conduct was due to one of two causes:
“When we saw his state, we thought it was probably because he was messed up. He was either super strung-out on drugs or he was acting mentally ill.”
Goodling also noted that he made some rather off-the-wall comments throughout the show, but it took a dark turn when he had a bizarre exchange with an audience member:
"It's unclear how it started, but it seemed to follow Cornell throwing a guitar pick into the crowd. He pointed to a fan and said something along the lines of, 'You better watch out, man. I could throw a drumstick out there and hit you in the eye and it could go right through to your brain.'
My boyfriend and I looked at each other like, 'What in the world?' It was very strange. We left shortly after."
Aside from Cornell's questionable behavior, fans also noticed his musicality was disheartening. And for an artist renown for his vocal abilities, fans weren't sticking around to be disappointed:
“His voice was way off that night. People were leaving early...”
He wrote that as a longtime fan of Cornell, he made sure to catch Soundgarden's performance, but like most people in attendance, he was left disenchanted:
“I left about eight songs into the set, after I just couldn't get into what they were doing ... Soundgarden's production looked like it was up there because somebody told them ”you gotta have SOMETHING up there, man."
And Segars felt the same way when it came to Cornell's voice, writing:
“Chris Cornell's vocals don't quite hit what they used to, and he starts parts of songs in weird spots, so the timing sounds off.”
He told IJR there was simply something mystifying about Cornell that night:
"He just seemed like, on stage, that he didn't care about anything anymore. There was no raw passion like he used to have. He was up there getting through the set, it felt like. We left as they were playing their last few songs because it was so 'off.'
You couldn't groove with the music, couldn't sing along, because he was so all over the place vocally. The music was impeccable. But he was definitely weird."
However, he noted that — especially after his passing — most people were just honored to be at one of Cornell's shows and haven't been expressly critical, writing:
“He's been doing this for years, but he's such a rockstar that most people just appreciate the fact that he's still onstage with this band that he started in the 80s.”
And naturally, fans have been outpouring their love and support for the late singer:
Tons of people say they are heartbroken over his loss:
Some wish him well and are mourning the death of a legend:
While others who worshipped his music are simply in shock:
Segars told IJR he grew up idolizing Cornell, but something was definitely not connecting with the singer:
“Cornell was one of a kind, so you just kinda chalked it up to maybe being an off night. But all the live videos I've seen since then have been pretty much the same.”
Although it's unclear what exactly was going on in Cornell's life during his final performances, his suspected suicide is leaving fans trying to make sense of it all.
UPDATE [5/18/17, 1:52 p.m. EST]
The AP reports that Chris Cornell died by hanging himself in his hotel room: