Tom Morello shares memories of Chris Cornell: “He had a dark poetry to him”

Cornell and Morello
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello shares his memories of his friend Chris Cornell in the new issue of Metal Hammer, recalling how the late Soundgarden frontman had “a dark, Edgar Allan Poe poetry to him.”

Discussing the origins of Audioslave, the Rage Against The Machine/Soundgarden supergroup who recorded three albums between 2001 and 2007, Morello tells Metal Hammer, “When Rage broke up, Brad [Wilk, drums], Tim [Commerford, bass] and I still wanted to play together, and we kept listening to [Soundgarden’s 1991 album] Badmotorfinger. Chris had an amazing voice, but he had a dark, Edgar Allan Poe poetry to him, we wondered what he was really like, so we decided to go talk to him.”

As Morello remembers, he first met Cornell in the company of music industry legend, and future Audioslave producer, Rick Rubin.

“He doesn’t leave the house for anything, unless it’s in a Rolls Royce inside another Rolls Royce,” Morello laughs, “but he’s in my van.”

“Chris lived in LA at the top of the last and loneliest mountain, it was dusk and the sunlight was going and this mansion he lived in was creepy as hell, the gates just opened like Addams Family style, and we drove in and there is Chris, 6’2 and a half, lanky of frame, dark of countenance, and he starts slowly walking towards us and Rick freaked out and goes, ‘Let’s get the fuck out of here!’ We stayed, he was the most loving and generous guy and we were in a band for six years together.”

Following their dissolution in 2007, Audioslave reunited briefly in 2017, performing at Prophets Of Rage’s Anti-Inaugural Ball on January 20 that year. Cornell’s death on May 18, 2017 ruled out any further collaborations between the musicians.

From more from Tom Morello, pick up the new issue of Metal Hammer, which is out now. The issue features four brand new cover stars - Spiritbox, Loathe, Sleep Token and Zeal & Ardor, the ultimate 2022 preview, and interviews with Avenged Sevenfold, Max Cavalera, and more.

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.