Chris Cornell by Mark Maryanovich

Chris Cornell, co-founder of Soundgarden and one of the key figures in the rise of grunge music at the turn of the ‘90s, has died at 52. The singer-guitarist’s death, which occurred Wednesday night in Detroit, was “sudden and unexpected,” according to statement released by his publicist. A cause of death has yet to be determined.

Born in Seattle, Cornell helped put together Soundgarden in the mid ‘80s. The band released their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988, but it was the group’s 1991 release, Badmotorfinger, that proved to be the band’s breakthrough. Along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden quickly emerged as one of the shining lights in the burgeoning grunge scene emanating from the Northwest and spreading elsewhere.

Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, but not before releasing five acclaimed studio albums, three of which went platinum. The group reunited in 2010, going on to release the comeback album, King Animal, in 2012, and touring regularly. The band had performed at the Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday night, just prior to Cornell’s death.

Cornell had an active career outside Soundgarden as well. Beginning with the 1999 LP, Euphoria Morning, he released five solo albums, the last of which was 2015’s Higher Truth. He also co-founded Audioslave, a “supergroup” the included former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Comerford. Audioslave released three albums before disbanding in 2007. Cornell also toured in 2016 with the reformed Seattle band, Temple of the Dog, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of that group’s landmark debut album.

In addition to his music career, Cornell was deeply involved in philanthropy. In 2012 he formed the Chris & Vicky Cornell Foundation, a charitable organization with a mission to support children facing issues of poverty, abuse and neglect. Proceeds from 2017’s “The Promise,” a title song he wrote for the film of the same name, went to the International Rescue Committee, an organization devoted to global humanitarian aid, relief and development.

Word of Cornell’s death has generated an outpouring of tributes from the music community at large. “Shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Chris Cornell,” tweeted Elton John. “A great singer, songwriter and the loveliest man.” “Very sad news about Chris Cornell today,” echoed Joe Perry. “A sad loss of a great talent to the world, his friends and family. Rest in Peace”

“RIP Chris Cornell,” wrote Jimmy Page. “Incredibly Talented. Incredibly Young. Incredibly Missed.”