Although a medical examiner ruled that the former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman died of suicide by hanging, his family insisted in a statement released through their attorney that the devoted husband and father would not have knowingly and intentionally taken his own life — and question whether any “substances” played a role in his death.
“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris — or if any substances contributed to his demise,” Cornell family attorney Kirk Pasich said in the statement. “Chris, a recovering addict, had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages. The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions.”
Furthermore, Pasich said Cornell — who in the past month was busy touring with Soundgarden and making red carpet appearances for the song he contributed to the new film The Promise — was planning for the future, including a fun family getaway on Memorial Day weekend.
Read on to learn more about Chris Cornell’s final weeks:
Promoting The Promise in April:
The beloved grunge rocker wrote and performed the end-title song for The Promise, a film that addressed the Armenian genocide. He attended the London premiere in April 6 alongside Amal and George Clooney, and shared a shot of himself with the Oscar winner on Twitter.
Cornell and his wife, Vicky Karayiannas, then attended the Los Angeles premiere on April 14. He spoke to PEOPLE on the red carpet, and said the project moved him because his wife’s Greek family was also impacted by the WWI genocide that wiped out roughly 1.5 million Armenians.
“One of my close friends is the producer of the film, who’s Armenian, Eric Esrailian. My wife is Greek. Her grandparents were actually refugees from the same period of Greek refugees, the same policy,” he said. “If neither of those things existed, it would still be something that I would want to be a part of and be able to have the opportunity to write a song for such an impactful, and what I think of as an important film.”
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Cornell, who announced he was donating all proceeds from the song to the International Rescue Committee, then took his wife and two younger children — including daughter Toni, 12, and son Christopher, 11 — to the New York screening at the Paris Theater on April 18 in what is now their final red carpet appearance as a family. (He also has a 16-year-old daughter, Lillian, from his first marriage to former Soundgarden manager Susan Silver.)
April 28: Soundgarden kicks off its spring tour
Less that two weeks after traveling the world to promote The Promise, Cornell was on the move again when he kicked off Soundgarden’s spring tour with a performance in Tampa on April 28, followed by a performance in Jacksonville the following evening and Fort Myers the night after that. Cornell and the band then performed in Atlanta on May 3, then performed gigs in North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee May 5-7. After a few days off the band headed to the midwest to play Indianapolis on May 10, Council Bluffs, Iowa, on May 12, Somerset, Wisconsin, on May 13 and Kansas City Missouri, on May 14 — Mother’s Day.
During the day on May 14, Cornell also tweeted upbeat Mother’s Day messages to wife Vicky and his mother-in-law, Toni Karayiannis.
His mother-in-law also tweeted a photo of a sweet note Cornell wrote to accompany his Mother’s Day present to her.
Week of May 14: Family time before final Detroit show
In a statement released after his death, wife Vicky said Cornell flew home at some point Sunday and spent time with the family for several days before what would be his last gig in Detroit.
“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,” she said. “When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do.”
RELATED VIDEO: I Watched Chris Cornell’s Final Show — and Saw Ominous Hints of the Tragedy to Come
Evening of May 17: His final hours
Cornell performed what would be his final Soundgarden show at Detroit’s Fox Theater Wednesday evening, and attendee Ken Settle, a rock photographer, said the musician initially seemed “joyous” onstage, even doing fist bumps and hand slaps with audience members: “He’d always been, back in the early days especially, kind of a brooding performer, more introspective, sometimes looking down at his guitar most of the time with his hair in his face. At this show, it was the opposite of that.”
In an ominous sign, however, Settle said the band ended with a Led Zeppelin song woven in with one of their own: “In My Time of Dying.”
“It’s a very odd choice to weave that in and now it does make you wonder,” he said. “There is so much that does point to a person who perhaps knew what was coming up, which is so sad. It makes me look at my pictures to search his eyes to see if there is a clue, something he’s saying that people were missing.”
Later that night, Cornell was tragically found dead inside his hotel room within Detroit’s MGM Grand Hotel. Wife Vicky said in her statement that she spoke to her husband after the show, and was concerned when he seemed “different.”
“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him,” she said.
She continued: “What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).