Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro spoke to Billboard about the passing of Chris Cornell, invoking the names of Scott Weiland, Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley — all musicians and peers who died at a young age — and asking, “How is it possible?”
“All my friends are dying,” he says, recalling when Cornell’s then band Audioslave was playing Lollapalooza in 2003, sharing the bill with Jane’s Addiction. The event was still a touring festival that year. Navarro and Cornell were both sober and in certain cities, they invited kids from local treatment centers to spend time backstage in an attempt to show them they could be substance-free and still have fun on the road.
“That’s what makes this so very hard to wrap my head around,” Navarro says. “This is a guy who was involved in making the world a better place for people.”
Cornell was found dead in his hotel room last week following a Soundgarden performance at Detroit’s Fox Theatre in what has been officially termed a suicide by hanging. The band’s sound engineer for the show has said the singer was “out of character from note one of the show.”
Here’s the full text of Navarro’s statement to Billboard:
The fact that Chris [Cornell] had such a recognizable sound at such young age and the ease with which he was able to project that range — we hadn’t seen anything like that and we haven’t seen anything like it since. And he was at the forefront of true musicianship in that era, backed up with depth. At that time, let’s just say there were a lot of really technically skilled prodigies gravitating toward a type of music that didn’t have as much depth to it and was more about flash. And you had bands with more substance but less ability on the instrument. Soundgarden had both. And Chris was the one guy that made everybody lean back and go, ‘Oh my god, this guy is unbelievable, real deal, going down in the history books.’
Chris was so the antithesis of that voice in his quiet, reserved way. Which created a lot of mystique. I remember in 2003 Jane’s Addiction was on tour with Audioslave for Lollapalooza, and Chris and I were both clean from drugs and alcohol and we invited kids from treatment centers at different spots in the country to hang out backstage and just show them you can do what we do and enjoy touring and the music without being loaded. That’s what makes this so very hard to wrap my head around. This is a guy who was involved in making the world a better place for people.
I just can’t believe that all these people I came up with are gone: Scott [Weiland], Kurt [Cobain], Layne [Staley], now Chris. All my friends are dying. How is it possible?