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Kim Thayil: A Lot of the Chris Cornell Tribute Show Was Bullsh*t

CPR7CPR7 Posts: 311

In January of 2019, the "I Am the Highway" tribute concert to Chris Cornell, organized by his widow Vicky, took place at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil recently opened up about the experience to Kerrang!, and explained that although it was nice honoring the legacy of their bandmate, a lot of it was "bullshit."

“The best thing about it was playing those songs again with Matt [Cameron] and Ben [Shepherd], and the next best thing was having our friends and guests join us," Thayil said. "The rest was a little bit uncomfortable. It was sort of a clusterfuck. It was picking at an open wound, emotionally, and nobody was that thrilled to do it."

They were, however, happy to be onstage together again, and the guitarist noted how emotional it was. "It was the Soundgarden family together, doing what Soundgarden does and honoring and missing our beloved, departed member. That was important."

"The rest of it – the celebrity nature, promotion and focus was bullshit. And we knew it was bullshit going into it," he admitted.

Soundgarden played a select number of songs at the concert, joined by guests like the Pretty RecklessTaylor MomsenBuzz Osbourne and Taylor Hawkins. Among other performers were the surviving members of Audioslave and Temple of the DogMetallicaFoo Fightersthe Melvins, Cornell's daughter ToniMaroon 5's Adam Levine, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton and Miley Cyrus.

"We did it for each other, to support Chris’ legacy," Thayil reflected. "There was something awkward and un-intimate about it. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around it, but I’m glad we did it for our friends and family.”


  • Being there, this feels accurate. There was a tension between folks the whole night. The speeches were read off of teleprompters and it felt like they had to be approved. You could hear an audible gasp when Stone mentioned Chris’s first marriage to Susan Silver. It was strange how minimized some people were. Though I thought she sounded great, Miley Cyrus having more of a presence than Jerry Cantrell is just really weird. Soundgarden’s set did a lot to redeem the early weirdness. There’s something truly beautiful hearing Stone on Outshined for the old timers.  Jimmy Kimmel was cringy all night and the presentation felt false, but the honest emotion was there in the music. All in all, it was strange, but if that’s what it took for just 8 more Soundgarden songs, I’d take it again.  
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