SOUNDGARDEN singer Chris Cornell said that he doesn’t believe the music industry deserves any of the blame for the deaths of fellow grunge icons Scott Weiland (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, VELVET REVOLVER), Kurt Cobain (NIRVANA) and Layne Staley (ALICE IN CHAINS). He told the 105.7 The Point radio station: “If you go into a 12-step meeting in any city, and you count 75 people, and you ask how many people are musicians, you’re gonna get two, and everybody else is gonna be from every walk of life that you can imagine. The same as Scott Weiland’s mother crying, there are mothers crying who have lost their sons who are construction workers, mechanics — literally anything you can think of — and it’s happening every day. And the only difference between a musician that’s famous and that other kid is that we don’t talk about them on the radio. That’s kind of it… They’re not somebody that is a public personality that’s already been talked about for other reasons.”
He continued: “And then I also think that there’s kind of a history of sort of… not deifying, but glamorizing a little bit the ‘dead guy,’ whether it’s a rock star or a famous actor. Like James Dean, he only made three movies, and he’s one of the best-known actors of all time. And granted, I think everyone agreed that he was really talented. And he died in a sort of glamorous badass way, which was in a little race car on his way to a race, driving it himself. I think there’s something to the legend of that, and something to the story of that.”
Cornell added: “One of the things that I’ve experienced over and over again, which I think is a way that people deal with it, particularly when it’s somebody that is already kind of celebrated for something, is that we invent this idea that somehow it was predetermined, I think. And that’s where I get impatient with it, because if that’s the case, [then] it’s predetermined with every kid that ends up with a substance abuse habit and dies from it, and there’s millions of them.”
Cornell also discussed the issue of personal responsibility as it relates to addicts, explaining that while genetics play a role in addiction and that some people are more at risk of becoming addicted than others, individuals put themselves on the path to dependence. He said: “If someone has the propensity to abuse alcohol or drugs, and they didn’t [get in with] the wrong [crowd] this weekend, they’re gonna meet another guy somewhere else — if you have that in you.”
He continued: “A lot of the time, I think, people get used to, after having some success, being able to kind of push off personal responsibility and kind of get away with it. And I think with that, a lot of the time, it’s the people who surround you that sort of allow it. ‘Yeah, it’s not really your fault.’ ‘It’s true. It was this issue and that outstanding issue.'”
Cornell added: “I don’t think that, at the end of the day, if a person really wants to get better, anything can stop them, and if a person doesn’t want to, they won’t. You can’t make them do it.”
Weiland is the latest in a long line of grunge stars who’ve died young, their deaths mostly drug-related. The list includes Cobain, Staley, Kristen Pfaff (HOLE), Mike Starr (ALICE IN CHAINS), Shannon Hoon (BLIND MELON) and Andrew Wood (MOTHER LOVE BONE).