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Grunge innovator, Soundgarden frontman

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Photographs by Invision/AP/JORDAN STRAUSS

In this March 25, 2017 file photo, Chris Cornell arrives at Elton John's 70th Birthday and 50-Year Songwriting Partnership with Bernie Taupin in Los Angeles.

Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, died Wednesday night in Detroit after the band had performed there. He was 52.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the Wayne County medical examiner's office said the death was a suicide by hanging. It said a full autopsy had not yet been completed.

Soundgarden played Wednesday night at the Fox Theater, and it had been scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio, today at the Rock on the Range festival.

Dontae Freeman, a spokesman for the Detroit Police Department, said that officers went to the MGM Grand hotel and casino around midnight in response to a call about an apparent suicide. Freeman said the man's date of birth was July 20, 1964, which is Cornell's.

He added that the man's wife had called a family friend to check on the man; the friend forced his way into the man's room at the casino and found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor with a band around his neck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cornell acknowledged in interviews that he had struggled with drug use throughout his life. In a 1994 Rolling Stone article, he described himself as a "daily drug user at 13" who had quit by the time he turned 14.

After Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, a breakup that would last for more than a decade, Cornell returned to heavy drug use, telling The Guardian in 2009 that he was a "pioneer" in the abuse of the opiate OxyContin and that he had gone to rehab.

Cornell helped form Soundgarden in Seattle, where he was born, around 1984.

The album Badmotorfinger, released in 1991, benefited from a swell of attention that was beginning to surround the Seattle scene, where Soundgarden, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, were playing a high-octane, high-angst brand of rock 'n' roll.

Three of Soundgarden's studio albums have been certified platinum, including Superunknown, from 1994, which featured "Black Hole Sun," "Fell on Black Days," "Spoonman" and "My Wave."

After disbanding, the group -- which includes guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron -- reunited in 2010 and has performed regularly since then.

Cornell also was frontman for the band Audioslave, formed in 2001.

Cornell released five solo albums during and after his time with Soundgarden, starting with the 1999 LP Euphoria Morning. His 2007 album Carry On featured an acoustic cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," which was the inspiration for a well-received version of the song on the talent show American Idol.

A Section on 05/19/2017

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