The story of Chris Cornell's final performance

18 May 2021, 15:06 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 17:57

Soundgarden - Rusty Cage - Live at The Fox Theater in Detroit, MI on 5-17-17

The Soundgarden and Audioslave legend died four years ago today, just hours after playing his final show.

Radio X

By Radio X

It's been four years since Chris Cornell died, aged 52 on 18 May 2017.

The Audioslave and Soundgarden rocker shocked the entertainment world when he took his own life, leaving many still mourning the loss of a talent that defined a generation.

Cornell was one of the key "grunge" stars - although his influence outgrew that manufactured genre, leading him to record music for a number of film soundtracks, including You Know My Name, the theme to the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.

Chris Cornell - You Know My Name

What was Chris Cornell's final gig?

Cornell played his last show at the Fox Theatre in Detroit with Soundgarden on May 17 2017, just hours before he died.

It was part of a string of reunion dates for the Black Hole Sun legends, which would see them visit various cities across North America.

Chris Cornell at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. He was promoting the film Machine Gun Preacher, which had a Cornell soundtrack.
Chris Cornell at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. He was promoting the film Machine Gun Preacher, which had a Cornell soundtrack. Picture: Matt Carr/Getty Images

From the videos shared of the show, it's clear Cornell was in fine voice, playing for two hours straight and proving just what a remarkable talent he was.

Playing tracks from across their career, the grunge pioneers kicked off their set with Ugly Truth, the opening track from their 1989 Louder Than Love album.

Then, treating fans to a the likes of Hunted Down, Non-State Actor and Outshined, the band didn't keep fans waiting too long to hear their iconic breakthrough track Black Hole Sun.

Not knowing the gig would be their last together, they band ended their set with an encore of Rusty Cage and Slaves & Bulldozers, both from the seminal 1991 album Badmotorfinger.

The latter is chilling to listen to as Cornell includes a few lines from the gospel song In My Time Of Dying, later made famous by Led Zeppelin: "Well, well, well, so I can die easy... Jesus going to make up my dying bed."

Cornell's friends, family and Soundgarden colleagues would later pay tribute to him at a special show in Los Angeles in January 2019. On the bill were members of Audioslave and Metallica, plus Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, Miley Cyrus and Fiona Apple as part of a five-hour tribute called I Am The Highway.

Chris Cornell's Last Song - Slaves and Bulldozers (including In My Time of Dying)

Setlist for Chris Cornell's final gig - Fox Theatre, Detroit, 17 May 2017.

  • Ugly Truth
  • Hunted Down
  • Non-State Actor
  • Searching With My Good Eye Closed (intro only)
  • Spoonman
  • Outshined
  • Kickstand
  • Black Hole Sun
  • By Crooked Steps
  • The Day I Tried to Live
  • My Wave
  • Been Away Too Long
  • Fell on Black Days
  • Mailman
  • A Thousand Days Before
  • Burden in My Hand
  • Blow Up the Outside World
  • Jesus Christ Pose


  • Rusty Cage

Slaves & Bulldozers (with In My Time of Dying refrain)

WATCH: Chris Cornell's daughter Toni covers Temple of the Dog's Hunger Strike

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