by Emma Reynolds and Kathy McCabe
SOUNDGARDEN singer Chris Cornell took his own life in a Detroit hotel room following a concert, authorities have determined.
A full autopsy report was not yet completed this morning, but the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said in a statement that the cause of death had been determined as suicide.
His wife Vicky was left dumbfounded by the artist's sudden death, telling friends there was no sign he was depressed and revealing the pair spoke before he took to the stage, TMZ reports.
She phoned his hotel room on Thursday morning and when he didn't answer, the website reveals she became concerned and contacted the front desk. Security discovered his body.
Just hours before he died, Cornell left what some have interpreted as a bleak message on his Facebook account.
Quoting a lyric from a song it read "I'm the shape of the hole, inside your heart".
It came as footage of Cornell performing his last ever concert emerged online as tributes poured in following sudden death of the rock legend.
The lead singer of the seminal grunge band Soundgarden and later Audioslave died aged 52 on Wednesday night after a concert in Detroit.
YouTube user "Uncle Sam" has uploaded a series of clips showing what is believed to be his last song - "Slaves & Bulldozers" merged with a Led Zeppelin's In My Time of Dying.
The gospel song, which has reportedly also been covered by Bob Dylan, contains eerie references to death including the words: "In my time of dying, I want nobody to mourn / All I want for you to do is take my body home."
"Jesus, going to make up my dying bed / Meet me, Jesus, meet me / Meet me in the middle of the air.
Slaves and Bulldozers
Chris Cornell's final performance
Cornell's family was in shock after his "sudden and unexpected" death, according to a statement released by his representative Brian Bumbery.
Cornell was one of the architects of the 1990s Seattle grunge rock scene which generated not only Soundgarden but Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains.
Soundgarden's fusion of 70s heavy metal and 80s punk set them apart from their peers, with the band the first of the scene's emerging superstars on the seminal indie label Sub Pop to be courted by the major labels.
Cornell's long tresses, piercing green eyes and agile rock growl made him one of the genre's most captivating frontmen.
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Red Hot Chili Peppers musician Dave Navarro, Gavin Rossdale of Bush and eighties singer-songwriter Billy Idol were among the first to express their grief at the loss of a great artist.
Navarro tweeted that he was "stunned" by the news, while Rossdale called it a "total shock".
Cornell had played a Soundgarden gig at Detroit's Fox Theatre just hours before his death, and was due to appear at major US festival Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio this weekend.
He was a pioneer of the 1990s grunge movement as part of Seattle band Soundgarden, whose hits included Black Hole Sun, Pretty Noose, Rusty Cage, Jesus Christ Pose and Fell on Black Days.
R.I.P. Chris Cornell 😭😭😭— MylesKennedyItaly (@MylesK_Italy) May 18, 2017
Awesome artist, incredible voice...
Yesterday in Detroit prematurely dies another star of grunge... pic.twitter.com/yl3hb4HskQ
Bumbery said in a statement that Cornell's wife Vicky and family were shocked by what had happened and would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.
"They would like to thank fans for their continuous love and loyalty and ask that their privacy be respected at this time," the statement said.
Soundgarden paved the way for a wave of iconic grunge/rock bands including Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. Cornell provided vocals on Alice in Chains song Right Turn and sang with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on Hunger Strike, a song by another popular band he played in, Temple of the Dog.
Soundgarden, which disbanded in 1997 but reformed in 2010, has sold more than 10 million albums in the US alone, and won two Grammy awards, with nine nominations.
Our hearts are heavy today. Weighed down by all that this mans art gave to us and saw us through in our own lives. RIP Chris Cornell. pic.twitter.com/BHKmStcvKV— The_Jaded_Jobbers (@TheJadedJobbers) May 18, 2017
"If I have any regrets about my participation in Soundgarden and anything else I did musically in the 80s and 90s it was just that I drank a lot," he told CNN.
"I was like a high functioning alcoholic. I was always the guy who was on time, the guy who made sure things got done and that we were doing what we needed to do, I was very responsible but also drinking all the time.
"And so I have this memory of always being hung-over, really."
The Golden Globe nominated singer-songwriter and guitarist went on to found Audioslave with former members of Rage Against the Machine and released several solo albums.
The father of three was also known for singing You Know My Name, the theme song for James Bond movie Casino Royale and worked with R&B producer Timbaland.
Cornell, consistently named one of rock's greatest singers, was also loved for his brilliant covers, which included Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U, Michael Jackson's Billie Jean and Led Zeppelin's Thank You.
Cornell had battled addictions to drugs and alcohol in the past and spent time in rehab, but had been sober for more than a decade, telling the Tampa Bay Times last year he thought it was "a shame" that musicians' drug overdoses were "glorified a little".
He left school at the age of 15 to play drums in a band and knew he had found his calling. "By the time I was 19, I distinctly remember driving home from my restaurant job in my 1969 four-door Galaxie 500, and having this kind of moment, it was like an epiphany," he told Rolling Stone in 2015.
"It occurred to me that there was no guarantee that as a musician I would ever have any kind of financial success, but I was fine with that. And on this drive I remember making a promise to myself that no matter what happened in terms of success, I was going to be one of those guys playing music until he drops dead."
Cornell had a special connection to Australia, not because of his sell-out shows at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne or three appearances at Big Day Out festival, but because he almost drowned here.
"There was a time when I dove into one of the bays at night and there was a full-on pipe, a few feet in diameter and I was eight feet under and it was dark," he told the Herald Sun two years ago.
"I got stuck in the pipe. I had to figure out how to turn around and get back out of it without dying … which I did, that's how I'm talking to you now."
He also discussed having the same name as an alleged jihadist. "I was surprised. Then I got worried. When I leave the country, who knows? Last time I went to Australia and New Zealand nobody said anything to me. At customs I think they know who I am; I think they know I'm not a 22-year-old jihadist from Ohio."
Cornell also started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation in 2012 to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.
The musician shared a poignant final tweet from Detroit shortly before he died.