"I looked to John Lennon as a father figure when I was a kid": watch Chris Cornell discuss the influence of John Lennon, and perform a beautiful acoustic version of Imagine, on the Howard Stern show in 2011

Chris Cornell, 2011
(Image credit: SiriusXM)

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell spoke on countless occasions about how The Beatles were the first band to change his life. "Even at age nine," he once said, "they had a big impression on me, and later on my writing, without me realising it."

"That had to do with how young I was, and getting into their whole catalog at the same time," Cornell added in a 2011 interview with CTATL.com. "I had stolen a stack of Beatles vinyl that covered their whole career. Two of the records were those ‘best of’ era compilations - those double record sets where one was red and one was blue. I listened to it all but I gravitated toward the later stuff. Even though I was 9 years old, and had no way of knowing, it was influential in every way as a songwriter and as a singer." 

That same year, Cornell appeared on the Howard Stern show and declared that John Lennon was probably his favourite songwriter ever.

"I actually looked to him as a father figure when I was a kid," Cornell told Stern. "Because I sat in a room at nine and ten years old and listened to Beatles records and John Lennon records over and over and over. He was an intense guy with an intense attitude, musically, lyrically and as a person."

Watch Cornell cover Lennon's timeless 1971 single Imagine below:

A date has yet to be set for the release of the seven songs that Soundgarden's frontman recorded in the months prior to his death. The songs, recorded at Cornell's home studio in Florida in 2017, had been at the centre of a legal battle between the surviving members of his band and his widow, Vicky Cornell, but in April this year it was announced that the dispute had been resolved.

The songs in question are Cancer and Stone Age Mind (written by Chris Cornell), Road Less TraveledOrphans and At Ophians Door (co-written with drummer Matt Cameron), Ahead Of The Dog (a co-write with guitarist Kim Thayil), and Merrmas (co-written with bassist Ben Shepherd. 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.