Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan revealed that Axl Rose ‘freaked out’ after late Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell’s death in a new interview. Slash recently revealed what would make him ‘uncomfortable’ after performing a Chris Cornell tribute.
McKagan told Rolling Stone, “We had rehearsed that night, and Axl came into rehearsal and goes, ‘What do you guys think about doing Black Hole Sun? I’ve just been singing it for the last two weeks.’ Axl has a fucking sixth sense like that. I don’t know if we tried it that night, but we talked about it. I drove home and [GN’R guitarist Richard] Fortus calls me at, like, 2 a.m. and is like, ‘Turn on the radio. Cornell’s dead.’ Axl was pretty freaked out by it. But then Prince died a few months later, and to me, Prince was everything. I fucking cried. And then Chester [Bennington].”
Bennington’s death reminds McKagan of how he too dealt with what doctors first told him was depression but he later learned was a chemical imbalance. After suffering a panic attack at the movies with his wife (“I couldn’t move,” he says) he sought help and got medications.
“I call it brain vitamins. It keeps everything moving and it’s not an addictive drug and thank fucking God for that. But for Chester and Chris, experiencing addiction and depression, I know that if it’s depression like I had, when you can’t breathe and there’s no way out, then all bets are kind of off.”
Alternative Nation published an in-depth article last year about Chris Cornell blowing away Axl Rose. Below is an excerpt:
In the summer of 1992 Spin magazine put Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell on their cover, the photo had been taken with Cornell shirtless, as he always was back then, and screaming into the lens. The sub headline was a pure hyperbole classic: ‘Seattle spawned it, Madonna wants it and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell has it.’ They were of course talking about grunge, which had exploded worldwide that year. Nirvana were touring in support of Nevermind, Pearl Jam had Ten, and Soundgarden had their breakthrough record Badmotorfinger.
Whilst the so called alternative grunge scene was hesitant to go on tour with 80’s rock hair bands, Soundgarden were different. Perhaps it was the band’s heavier leanings towards metal acts of the 70’s that would open their minds somewhat to agreeing to go on tour with Guns N’ Roses for their 2nd leg of their U..S and European tour in support of the Use Your Illusion albums. Nirvana and Pearl Jam, two bands that formed after Soundgarden, were also making more waves at the time, which also could have influenced the decision. The opportunity that presented itself did make perfect sense, as the band could get major exposure by going out on tour with GN’R, which was by far the hottest ticket back in the day.