Like most of us GenXers, I was shocked and saddened to learn of Chris' passing last week. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said at this point, but of the 90s Grunge pioneers that we've lost, Chris probably meant the most to me. While I miss the music of Kurt (Nirvana) and Layne (Alice in Chains), Chris was more than just Soundgarden, he was living proof of musical evolution and diversity. And I would dare say that he was a major influence on established and up and coming rockers.
I remember reading an article way back in the early 90s in which Soundgarden was listed as both the best and worst Led Zep rip off band. It piqued my interest and I found myself putting together enough extra cash to buy a copy of Louder than Love at my local CD Shop. I can truly say that I had never heard a sound or a voice quite like that in my life and from that moment on, I was hooked.
Of course, we all pretty much know where Soundgarden went from there (and Temple of the Dog...don't forget that gem), but Chris didn't stop making incredible music after the band went on a 12 year hiatus. Instead, he released a highly regarded solo effort and joined the supergroup Audioslave which once again proved that he had a lot more to offer to new and old fans alike. Seriously, try to tell me that "Cochise" doesn't kick ass....I dare you.
And again, he didn't stop there. He co-wrote probably the hardest rocking Bond theme since Live and Let Die, which was included on his next solo album Carry On. His take on Michael Jackson's Billie Jean is sure to send chills down your spine.
The biggest head scratcher of them all had to be the next solo effort Scream, which was produced by Timbaland and did away with the guitars and hard rocking in favor of an electro beat. While the album wasn't a success (it was a downright bomb in fact), I bought it and I will tell you that it's worth a listen. It showed a lot of bravery on his part to step out of his comfort zone and do something completely different.
And of course that brings us back to the reunion of Soundgarden and while they were all a little older and wiser, King Animal brought the band full circle.
Finally while most fans have been aware of his struggles over the years which paved the path to his untimely passing, I prefer to remember his music and what it meant to me all the way back there in the flannel wearing, grungy days of the 90s all the way up to now. If you haven't listened to him in awhile, go dig up any record you can and revisit one of the true innovators of modern rock music.
Miss you Chris!