Audioslave Reveal How Many Singers Were Considered Before Chris Cornell

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Former Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello discussed searching for singers after Rage Against The Machine ended in 2000 following Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk splitting from Zack de la Rocha. In new liner notes written for the Chris Cornell career retrospective album, he revealed that they discussed ‘dozens’ of singers and rappers to front what would eventually become Audioslave.

“In the aftermath of the breakup of Rage Against The Machine in 2000, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk and I spent a lot of time over at Rick Rubin’s house scheming about what we wanted to do next. We listened to and discussed and debated the relative merits of dozens of singers and rappers over the course of a few months. We had been in a world crushing band and wanted to continue to crush the world. No easy task. And then Rick cranked up ‘Slaves and Bulldozers’ by Soundgarden. Chris Cornell’s voice was haunting, beautiful, terrifying. We all looked at each other and unanimously exclaimed, ‘That’s the FUCKING GUY!’ We had been huge fans of Soundgarden and their drop D riffle was very influential on RATM, but Chris’ VOICE was otherworldly.”

“That day we were talking and he said he had gotten a call from the old Rage Against The Machine members and they were putting together a new project, and they wanted him to audition. He said he was going back to treatment and then going to LA to do the audition in a couple of months. He never made it, so Chris Cornell went and got the job.”

Layne Staley’s friend Morgen Gallagher claimed in 2015 that he watched the 2001 Super Bowl with Staley in Seattle, and that Staley said he was considering joining what would become Audioslave.

“That day we were talking and he said he had gotten a call from the old Rage Against The Machine members and they were putting together a new project, and they wanted him to audition. He said he was going back to treatment and then going to LA to do the audition in a couple of months. He never made it, so Chris Cornell went and got the job.”
Tom Morello later said on Twitter that he didn’t recall this, so it’s unclear what really happened.