All My Favorite Grunge Musicians Are Dead

Picture of a dark Seattle. Is Grunge cursed?
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Picture of a dark Seattle. Is Grunge cursed?
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Seattle (photo: Courtney Rhea)

Is grunge cursed?

May 18th, 2017.

Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden and grunge pioneer, kills himself unexpectedly.  Cornell was found dead in the bathroom of his MGM Grand hotel, with a strap around his neck.  He was 52.

December 3, 2015.

Scott Weiland, singer of Stone Temple Pilots, found dead in his tour bus.  Weiland was touring with his group, The Wildabouts, and found dead in his tour bus after a heavy drug overdose.  He was 48.

April 5, 2002.

Layne Staley, lead singer of Alice In Chains, dies of a drug overdose.  His partially decomposed body was found inside his Seattle condo, after a long period of isolation.

April 5, 1994

Kurt Cobain kills himself with a shotgun.  Cobain suffered from heroin addiction, depression, and major conflicts surrounding his superstar success.

June 27, 1992

Stefanie Sargent, cofounder and guitarist of 7 Year Bitch, found dead.  Sargent died of complications surrounding alcohol and heroin ingestion.


I never thought that Chris Cornell was silently battling inner demons.

Sure, there were the episodes with drugs, the bouts of depression afflicting talented musicians.

The darkness of Seattle.

But Soundgarden wasn’t that kind of band!  They were melodic, octave-jumping, sophisticated, caffeinated rock.  Even members of the group hated the grunge description.

It didn’t quite fit.  And neither does this death.

Nirvana made depressing ditties.  It wasn’t the same.  As shocking as Kurt Cobain’s suicide was, at least you could hear it in his music.  It kind of made sense in the end.

Not only that, Soundgarden made it past their ‘formative’ years, playing in front of aging Gen Xers.  Earlier this week, in fact.  And they could have probably toured for decades to come, if not longer.

But while Mick Jagger and Keith Richards defy the upper limits of mortality, grunge’s icons aren’t making it halfway.  Turns out Kurt and Lane Staley were just the early warning signs.  Scott Weiland had a delayed reaction.  Cornell polished it off.

There’s still Dave Grohl.  Highly-functioning, creative, fatherly, energetic.  And Eddie Vedder.  Constantly touring, writing, and playing.

Hope there isn’t another shoe waiting to drop somewhere.


54 Responses

  1. music stowaway

    From what I have read previously… for a band in the U.S. to keep
    financially afloat they have to be on the road touring for many months of the year and I think the grind of it all wears musicians down..

    In the 70s & 80s when records really sold a lot of records, a
    successful band could put out singles and albums and make enough money to afford a comfortable life and time out for leisure.

    Now that record business bubble has popped and
    downloads/streams generate such meager returns, a band has to be constantly out there night after night gigging across the country to make ends meet… it’s a difficult and tough job to do… I think you could easily feel that you’re stuck on this endless treadmill of going ’round in circles.. Mind you, lot’s of jobs are like this..
    imagine if you’re a inter-state truck driver..

    • Screaming trees fan

      As long as mark lanegans alive grunge is alive

        • JoneT

          Therealis..addjohn4tothefuckinglistofBITCHQUEENS. EH JOHN4

      • Tim

        Since I heard nearly lost you there I was a fan especially his solo stuff, Mark Lanegan changed the way I felt about music. Thank God he is coming to Detroit.



  2. Joey C.

    Mark Arm – the first and best Grunge artist is still alive.

      • John4


        • Donna A.

          John4 is the devil. Chris had a once in a lifetime voice, great looks and beautiful eyes!!!? John4 is jealous and it shows!

  3. ©

    I don’t know that I’d consider STP to be grunge but to each their own.
    There is still the possibility to see or get new music from:
    Meat Puppets

    Probably way more bands I am spacing on or never knew about.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I know what you mean. Actually, I’d never even considered SG to be grunge until this week, when I realized they’d been lumped in all along. So, maybe it’s just music of a certain generation and place. Even Radiohead was referred to as grunge around ‘Creep’.

      • Anonymous

        Radiohead, I do not believe, ever connected in reference to GRUNGE, the GRUNGE movement, Grunge genre, etc. If you ever actually hears the two words in one sentence, which is unlikely, but rather a slim possibility a non-musically oriented civillian could’ve DESCRIBED a Live performance w/distorted amp or guitar riff as sounding GRUNGY…

    • AndyC

      I would put The Originator, Andrew Wood on that list…. Mother Love Bone kinda started it all

  4. REAL

    Pearl Jam have sucked since the second record. Dave Grohl has sucked since the first Foo record, which was influenced by Cobain. All the greats of Seattle grunge are definitely now gone. Weiland was a joke honestly. Layne was a great talent but also a joke. Anyone that thinks they can play with opiates after the reams of evidence that they are a dangerous drug should just off themselves quick and get it over with, because opiates are for idiots. Keith Richards is the only one who has really come out the other side, and look at him.

      • Wen

        Obviously your a ignorant piece of shit…If you don’t like the Seattle bands.. leave it alone..Why make comments .. People like you need your fucken ass kicked.. Mother Fucker… I’m sure your the dick sucker… Seattle bands fucken Rock.. always will…


      …“reams of evidence”…? Wtf are you babbly-blathering on&on&on about?
      I believe the fact I read thru your entire born-again, morman-esque psychodribble, & “just say no” BUT ” I truly wana-be sinless, too bad~ I’m liar”, “holier than thou” verbally-rectal recital….w/out bursting Myself at the seams from such a painfully intense, heart attack inducing, DEEP-Belly laughter….is a mystery AND miracle beyond any comprehensive fathoming! Now, take your anti-opiod rhetoric back to your Cool-Aide Cult Trailor Township, & make your parishes eardrums bleed there…quietly! Keep the intellectual dialogue to the humans…. Your troglodyte tribe beckons you back ASAP…you’re the shining beacon from which all their salvation is contrived.
      & FYI: K.RICHARDS is HARDLY the ONLY ONE to “come out the other side” you baboon-like baffoon… KEITH is simply the only one of the successfully talented, iconic super-skilled Artist’s who just DGAF! All the rest are keepin’it on DL. Ever heard of that?!? KR wears his decades of debauchery like a badge of honor. His Chemi-OD Biological evidence blatantly displays his infinite #of unbridled boozin’/whorin’ Tours of Poop-Chutey Do-Whop Duty… whilst maintainin’ His impeccable pecker-form on 18+over’s nearly (NOT) barely Teens no more!
      Keiths Funparalleled Super Hero Snortin’/shootin’/pokin’& DOPIN’ makes him LEGENDARY. BUT, There’s an INDUSTRY full of Profe$h Party-Goers…that take a lickin’ just to keep on Stickin’. Or, was that, Lickity-Spittin’ just to lube a shaven Kitten! Ohhhhhh. Yeaaaa.
      Don’t HATE, lil’guy…just cuz U ain’t rollin’like Us Big Ballaz!
      I gotta ROCK IT in my POCKET, Lover Gyrlz just can’t STOP IT!!

  5. Jason

    Sadly this list is incomplete:
    Frosti Bjarnason of Blind Melon
    Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone

    • Seattle Substance Abuse

      Who the fuck is frosti of blind melon? Shannon Hoon?

      • Amy

        Exactly! How could Shannon Hoon ever be forgotten? His lyrics and voice were incredible.

  6. CB

    I’m surprised that so many people are surprised that Chris Cornell might have suffered severe depression. Of course Soundgarden wasn’t a generally depressing band, but let’s remember their most enduringly popular and best known song is Black Hole Sun. I mean just read the lyrics: the lyrics are some of the bleakest ever to feature in a radio friendly hit.

    The lyrics paint a picture of a bleak, hellish landscape, so hellish that the narrator begs the “black hole sun” to finally come and “wash away the rain.” Think about it. The singer doesn’t ask the rain to wash away his pain, as you’d expect, but instead he longs for the sun itself to turn into a black hole and wash away the rain! The “black hole sun” of the title isn’t feared or fled from, but rather, the persona Cornell adopts actually yearns for, wishes for an apocalypse to end his pain!

    • Trevor C.

      The first b side track of Black Hole Sun is actually “Like Suicide”.

      • shady

        I was going to say, you could look for hidden meanings, or just listen to ‘like suicide’ if you were having trouble finding clues.

    • T

      Randomly chose lyrics according to cornel in an interview. As nonsense as teen spirit

    • jp2259

      I am a musician and never delved into the song that far but you may be right. Then again there are other theories. No one but possibly those close, will ever know the true meaning. Sorry, it does sound like your getting a bit “Sagan” with your interpretation.

    • Glenda G.

      I agree with u look at the lyrics like a stone,fell on black days,preaching the end of the world,many red flags!! He seldom smiled in interviews!

  7. Shawn

    Such a sad story. He was a beautiful person. I’m very happy we still have vedder. And although no one says his name I feel jerry Cantrell is a jewel. That man is very talented. No one can replace the ones we lost but focus on what we still have too.

  8. shady

    I knew somebody on the internet would post this. I was trying to explain this to a coworker the other day. Andy, Kurt, Layne, Chris, Scott (not seattle, but w/e). All gone. At least we got Twin Peaks back? Flannel up with pride.

  9. danwriter

    All my favirote Baroque Era musicians are dead, too. What’s your point?

  10. Rose Schlesselman

    They all desperately needed the Lord and the salvation which only comes from Christ! Too bad they didn’t have some workers help them not only mentally and physically, but also spiritually. I use to like S.T.P. and the others to try them out. I could sense strong demonic strongholds on all of them. I switched to Christian music a long time ago when I came to be born-again of the Holy Spirit. Poor of spirit and very talented. They, like everyone else were and are in need of filling that God-shaped hole. I am praying for all secular musicians to find that missing friend who is the only one who can help them! Two guys from Korn split off for Jesus. God loves us and wants the best for all of us. There are a hundreds of other Good and totally committed Christian bands that play really heavy metal and similar grunge. None of them have done anything like the secular bands lead singers have done. I praise God every day I have such uplifting, yet gnarly metal to enjoy. From Decyfer Down to Living Sacrifice and Impending Doom. They do it all for our friend and Savior Jesus Christ! I would have died myself from anxiety and depression if I have not reached out to God and Jesus. I thank the Lord God almighty for Christian alternatives. As I Lay Dying was never a Christian band. It takes discernment from God to know what to do.

    • Kim Frampton

      Prayer, people! He listens. We just have to ask Him. Thank you, Rose.

    • Bryan E.

      Rose, Don’t forget Demon Hunter, Skillet, Red, 12 Stones, Stryper, Barren Cross, Haste the Day, Underoathe, WhiteCross, TFK, We as Human, Daniel Band, Disciple, Haste the Day, FlyLeaf, Fire Flight,Seventh Day Slumber, Barnabas, Levitcus, The Letter Black, Nine Lashes, POD, Tourniquet, Saving Grace. Just to mention a few. XD August Burns Red and As I lay Dying have some Christians in the band, but not really a Christian Band so to speak.

  11. SavedByTheSound

    Seattle sound…tragic message and lessons for those who struggle with mental illness and drug abuse. John4 is just a wounded soul with homophobic tendencies that he fights off by lashing out as a keyboard ninja when all of us know he is nothing more then the homophobic nobody who will one day grow up (physically) and kill cats and dogs as a Segway into his first murder of a weak wounded woman who made the mistake of trusting him…sociopath.
    Yes we all want to physically beat someone like him but rest assured he is tortured everyday and beat up
    By life and it’s a sadder story then we can fathom. So let’s focus on what matters, these amazing talents that struggled with there vices but found an outlet for some time that we can relate and connect with and will cherish for our lives and pass on to others…the true message that they put in music and wanted to save others through. They gave there lives to save others….that’s the message in a tortured soul. While others turn to darker sadder things like homophobia and keyboard ninjas bcuz they are so ugly inside that they hide….
    God welcome them to your kingdom and know that they saved many no matter there plight and for that they are angels in my preconceived heaven.

  12. Alix

    The Linkin Park singer died today… RIP Chester Bennington

    • Kim Frampton

      Americans are killing themselves, with these horrible pills and Lord knows what else. I just don’t get it! Life can be awfully hard, sometimes, but we all have to stay strong. For ourselves, our families, and especially for our kids! Do the ones who took their own lives, have the slightest clue as to how their deaths will affect their children? The grief must be unbearable. My heart goes out to them, especially, and to all who knew and loved them. Its so very sad that we’ve lost such beautifully, insightful, gorgeous human beings. Kids and adults, alike, STAY AWAY FROM PILLS AND ANY OTHER SUBSTANCE THAT MAKES YOU CONTEMPLATE KILLING YOURSELF! Life is precious! Live it!!!!

  13. Kim Frampton

    I loved them all. They’re gone, but never, ever forgotten. God’s got ” One heckuva Band!!”. Play On, all you Rock and Rollers. See you on the “flip side!”. We love you!!!!!

  14. Courtney Cobain

    Thank you, you mentioned ALL the GRUNGE singers. In another article I read the idiot totally left out Scott Weiland. He was Grunge as well, I swear people are so stupid.

  15. Duh

    You forgot the most important grunge pioneer of them all= Andrew Wood. There’s a reason why theres an 8 foot statue at the center of The Pearl Jam emp exhibit.