May 17th. 2017 is a sad day in Detroit concert history. Chris Cornell played his final show with Soundgarden at the Fox Theatre. Sometime after the show, Chris took his own life after years of struggling with depression. This post is dedicated to remembering Chris Cornell.
Ken Settle is a Detroit concert photographer and one of (if not THE) best concert historians we have. He has been there, taken the pictures, and remembers all the stories. I asked Ken if I could share this post. I couldn’t think of a better way to show respect for the memory and legacy of Chris Cornell than by sharing Ken’s story. Many thanks, Ken.
Ken Settle: Chris Cornell’s Final Show
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING?
For me, that moment came in the late night/early morning hours of May 17, 2017, into May 18, 2017.
I had just photographed the triumphant Soundgarden show at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. I was sitting at my computer editing the photos from that night. Thoughts of how much Chris Cornell was smiling that night and how much more he was interacting with the audience filled my head. Chris was shaking hands and fist-bumping everyone in the first few rows. He was interacting with the other band members more than usual as well… much more than I had seen before in my twenty-five years of photographing the band.
I got a late-night call from a friend of mine asking if I’d heard the news.
My friend told me that Chris Cornell died in Detroit shortly after the show! Immediately, I went online to see what was being published and at that time, stories were just starting to trickle in.
I thought about how fragile life truly is and I thought about how we sometimes never know what burdens and crises someone is carrying around inside of them, despite the smiles and the joyousness that they may share. I thought of how many people will miss Chris Cornell and the special presence and light that he brought into everyone’s world. Thinking about how lucky I was to have met Chris backstage at an early Soundgarden show, I also thought about how he struck me as the very sensitive, quiet, emotional, intelligent, and KIND man he seemed to be.
Not at all like your typical rock star on the rise. He seemed like an old soul even in those early years. I thought of how absolutely desolate and lonesome it felt to know that I would never again be able to catch a little bit of his brilliance with my camera and lens.
The music and the magic that Chris made will live on. In records, and tapes, CDs, videos, and memories. But most of all, it will live on in that very special place in our hearts and souls.
We love and miss you, Chris Cornell.
For my dear friend, Karen Richards.