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Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dies

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A file picture dated 30 May 2009 shows US musician Chris Cornell, image: EPA/VALERIE KUYPERS

Soundgarden rock singer Chris Cornell has died at the age of 52, according to his representative.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Brian Bumbery says Cornell died on Wednesday night in Detroit.

Bumbery called the death "sudden and unexpected" and said his wife and family were shocked by it.

The statement said Cornell's family would be working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause and asked for privacy.

With his powerful, nearly four-octave vocal range, Cornell was one of the leading voices of the 1990s Seattle grunge movement with Soundgarden which joined the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains.

Formed in 1984 by Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto, Soundgarden's third studio album, Badmotorfinger, in 1991 spawned the singles Jesus Christ Pose, Rusty Cage and Outshined.

Cornell also collaborated with members of what would become Pearl Jam to form Temple of the Dog, which produced a self-titled album in 1991 in tribute to friend Andrew Wood, former frontman for Mother Love Bone.

Three years later, Soundgarden broke through on mainstream radio with the album Superunknown, which debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Record in 1995. It included hit singles Spoonman, Fell on Black Days, Black Hole Sun, My Wave and The Day I Tried to Live.

Soundgarden disbanded in 1997 due to tensions in the band and Cornell pursued a solo career. In 2001, he joined Audioslave, a supergroup that included former Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford.

Audioslave disbanded in 2007, but Cornell and Soundgarden reunited in 2012 and released the band's sixth studio album, King Animal in 2012.

Cornell released five solo records and toured Australia in 2015 with a string of shows off the back of the album, Higher Truth.

He also became involved in philanthropy and started the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support children facing challenges, including homelessness, poverty, abuse and neglect.

© AP 2017