Legendary rock frontman Chris Cornell was found dead inside of his hotel room in Detroit on May 17. His death was the result of a suicide by hanging, the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
The medical examiner’s office didn’t provide any additional details, and a full autopsy report isn’t yet available.
Cornell, 52, is survived by his wife of 13 years — Vicky Karayiannis — and his three children.
Cornell was found dead inside of his MGM Grand hotel room in Detroit just hours after playing a sold-out show with Soundgarden on May 17 at the Fox Theatre.
Vicky released a statement May 18 that talked about the immense pain she felt from her husband’s death.
Chris’s death is a loss that escapes words and has created an emptiness in my heart that will never be filled. As everyone who knew him commented, Chris was a devoted father and husband. He was my best friend.
His world revolved around his family first and, of course, his music second. He flew home for Mother’s Day to spend time with our family. He flew out mid-day Wednesday, the day of the show, after spending time with the children. When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do.
Cornell was best known for his time as the lead singer of Soundgarden, and later Audioslave. He was on tour with Soundgarden at the time of his death. He, along with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, were the pioneers of the Seattle-based grunge rock scene in the 1990s.
Here’s what you need to know about his wife, Vicky:
1. Vicky Called a Family Friend to Check on Cornell’s Health
A source told Fox 2 News Detroit that Vicky called her husband’s bodyguard at around 11:35 p.m. Wednesday requesting him to check on her husband after he hung up on her during a phone call.
When the bodyguard opened the hotel room door at the MGM around midnight, Cornell’s deceased body was discovered laying motionless in a bathroom with an unspecified object tied around his neck.
A source that spoke with Vicky told TMZ that Chris was “not, in any way, shape or form, in a suicidal state.” She added that there were no signs showing that he was depressed, either.
His representative Brian Bumbery said in a statement to the Associated Press that his death was “sudden and unexpected.” Bumbery added in the statement that Vicky and the family were shocked by it.
Vicky issued a statement to the media one day after his unexpected death. She said that her husband’s passing was caused by an overdose of the drug Ativan, saying that if he killed himself, he clearly wasn’t in the right state of mind thanks to the drug.
The family’s lawyer said they aren’t ready to admit his death was a suicide, citing upcoming toxicology reports as being the key for seeing what was going on in Cornell’s head. He added that the Ativan has potential to cause paranoia or suicidal thoughts.
“The family believes if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,” he said to TMZ.
2. The Couple Got Married in 2004 & Had 2 ChildrenBefore marrying Vicky, Chris was married to Soundgarden manager Susan Silver. She was also the manager for Alice In Chains and managed his solo career.
The pair got married on March 20, 1990 and had a daughter —
Lillian Jean Cornell — who was born on June 28, 2000. But the couples’ relationship turned sour, and their divorce was finalized in March 2004.
That’s when the former Soundgarden lead singer met Vicky. He was on tour with his band Audioslave in France at the time and he got engaged to her in a Paris bar not long after. He gave her a Harry Winston diamond ring in 2003, and the two reportedly partied with Adriana Lima and Eva Herzigova and actor Sean William Scott after she said “yes.”
Chris and Vicky got married in 2004 in Paris.
“When I met my wife Vicky’s family, I had to go out of my way to convince them — to show them — that I wasn’t anything like their idea of a musician,” Chris told Details Magazine in 2012.
Cornell and Vicky were married for 13 years before his death. They have two children together: Toni (12) and Christopher (11).
In 2010, The New York Daily News reported that the couples’ wedding video was being offered on Craigslist “as macabre lost footage of dead starlet Brittany Murphy.” Murphy was a maid of honor at the wedding ceremony.
The Daily News said that Chris threatened to sue CraigsList for allowing it to be listed. The video ended up being removed from the website.
3. The Couple Ran a Charity For Children TogetherOne of Chris and Vicky’s fondest achievements is forming the Chris & Vicky Cornell Foundation.
It was formed in 2012 with the mission in mind of protecting “the most vulnerable children” facing poverty and abuse.
“I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to make a career doing something I love,” Chris said. “Not every kid gets those opportunities. I’m in a fortunate position to use music to support important causes that help foster change.”
In April, The Daily News reported that Chris joined actor George Clooney in London to screen his new film The Promise. After doing so, Chris headed to a refugee camp in Athens, where he, his family and the foundation worked with the International Rescue Committee to help the children.
To assist in raising funds and awareness for the foundation and its cause, Chris had auctioned off a number of rare memorabilia from his musical past.
4. A Former Maid Tried to Sue Chris & VickyIn 2012, TMZ reported that a former housekeeper of the couples’ filed a lawsuit against them for saying she worked over 40 hours in a week and never got paid overtime. In addition to that, she said that Vicky “verbally berated” her with insults before she fired her.
Elia Mora filed the lawsuit against the couple. She was hired back in 2006 to clean the Cornells’ home, and everything seemed to be fine. That’s until Christmas Day 2011, when Mora reportedly finished cleaning and went home.
The lawsuit, which was obtained by TMZ, alleges that Vicky contacted Elia later in the day and ordered her to come back to do more work. The maid declined to do so, and Vicky allegedly “went nuts” on her.
Mora claimed in the lawsuit that she worked around 43 hours per week and never got paid overtime. She added that she never received “uninterrupted” lunches or 10-minute breaks.
But Cornell’s lawyer Howard King told TMZ that the maid and he lawyer were just trying to make headlines in the media.
The true facts are that Ms. Morales did not work full-time for the Cornells, was not fired by the Cornells and belatedly raises the spurious claims only after another one of her claims, for workers compensation for alleged injuries, was denied.
5. Vicky Is a Former Publicist & Has a Brother That’s a DJBefore meeting Chris, Vicky worked as a publicist in Paris.
She comes from a Greek family whose background includes owning restaurants and some time in music. Her brother is Nicholas Karayiannis, known as his stage name DJ Nick Blast. He’s was also the couples’ partner at a restaurant they opened in Paris called Black Calavados.
In a recent interview, Chris described Vicky as “an angel, a lioness and the perfect wife and mother.”