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Rocker Chris Cornell, famous lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, died on tour at the age of 52.
USA TODAY

Singer Chris Cornell, one of the pioneers of Seattle’s grunge-music scene, has died at age 52, his representative confirms.

Spokesman Brian Bumbery told the Associated Press that Cornell was found in his hotel room at the MGM Grand Detroit following a tour date at Detroit’s Fox Theatre with the reunited Soundgarden, the band he’d fronted for over 30 years.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Based on our observations at the scene, we are investigating it as a possible suicide,” Detroit Police spokesman Michael Woody, told the Detroit Free Press, declining to go into specifics.

Dontae Freeman, media relations manager for the Detroit Police Department, later told the newspaper, “He was found in his room with a band around his neck, but (the report) doesn’t say if it was attempted suicide or not.”

Cornell had appeared to be in good spirits Wednesday when he tweeted, “Finally back to Rock City” before the show. However, Freeman noted that the singer’s wife, Vicky Karayiannis, asked a family friend and asked him to check on Cornell after the show later that evening. The friend forced open his hotel room door and found Cornell unresponsive on the bathroom floor.

Bumbery called Cornell’s death “sudden and unexpected” and said his wife and family are in shock. The statement said the family would be working closely with the Wayne County medical examiner to determine the cause and have asked for privacy.

Lisa Croff, of the medical examiner’s office, confirmed her agency had received Cornell’s body Thursday morning and said she expects to release more information in the afternoon after an autopsy. But the cause of death could take longer to determine, especially if toxicology analysis is required.

REMEMBERING CORNELL: Music community pays tribute

CORNELL’S MUSICAL LEGACY: Revisit Cornell’s most memorable tracks

An unmistakeable voice

Cornell’s distinctive, nearly four-octave wail was as synonymous to grunge as the opening guitar notes to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

According to Nielsen Music, he sold 14.9 million albums over the course of his career, first with Soundgarden and later as the frontman of the supergroup Audioslave and as a solo artist. And although he reached stardom well before the advent of iTunes, he still managed to notch 8.8 million track sales and 300 million on-demand audio streams.

He formed Soundgarden in 1984 with Hiro Yamamoto, a bandmate from his old group, the Shemps. The new group would later recruit bassist Kim Thayil and drummer Matt Cameron.

The band melded 1970s hard rock and heavy metal with alternative, paving the way for better-known bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.  Soundgarden became the first grunge act to sign a major-label record deal after releasing their earliest tracks on Sub…