Tom Morello said late bandmate Chris Cornell had “redeemed hard rock music” by introducing a new level of intelligence to the genre.

The pair worked together in Audioslave from 2001 to 2007 with a reunion in 2017, before Soundgarden singer Cornell took his own life in May of that year.

“I got to be in a band with the dude for some years,” Morello told SiriusXM in a new interview, describing Cornell as “one of the greatest rock singers of all time.” “From his spectacular rock-god presence to his tremendous creation of melody to his very unique voice, I think his greatest contribution might have been that he and his band, Soundgarden, with the help of one or two other groups – maybe Jane’s Addiction and Living Colour – redeemed hard rock music," he said.

“Because, growing up on hard music, it was about groupies and the devil, and those were the subject matters," he noted. "[Soundgarden] was music that combined nuances, poetic intelligence in the lyrics, but with unapologetic kicking your ass with rock ’n’ roll. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s for me!’”

He added that Cornell’s approach had “opened the door” for bands from his own band Rage Against the Machine, as well as for Tool and Smashing Pumpkins. “All of it was … Chris and his embracing those two things – the hard rock music and the intelligence,” he said.

You can listen to the interview below.

Morello will take part in I Am the HIghway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell, a live memorial event that takes place at the Forum in Los Angeles on Jan. 16, featuring Metallica, the Foo Fighters and others.

“We haven’t figured out exactly what’s gonna happen,” he said. “But as soon as they called up I was enthusiastic about being able to play to honor and celebrate the life of Chris. ... It’s not gonna be some mournful, dreary thing – it’s gonna be about his awesome music.”



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