Vicky Karayiannis received a heartfelt Mother’s Day message from her husband, rock legend Chris Cornell, calling her an “angel and a lioness.”
Just three days later, Chris would be dead from a suspected suicide, and the message became his final public communication and a testament to the love he and his wife shared during their 13-year marriage.
Cornell reportedly died on Wednesday evening in Detroit, hours after he had performed a sold-out show, Good reported. The Detroit Police Department noted that an “apparent suicide” was the preliminary determination of Chris Cornell’s death, although a final report from the medical examiner has yet to be released, and there are no details of how or when Cornell actually died.
As TMZ reported, Vicky Karayiannis had just spoken to her husband before he took the stage for Wednesday’s concert and said he was not suicidal and showed no outward signs of depression.
But it was the next morning when Vicky could not reach her husband that alarm bells started to sound, TMZ reported.
“We’re told Vicky tried reaching Chris in his hotel room early Thursday morning, but he was not answering. She became concerned and asked someone to call hotel security. That’s when Chris’ body was discovered,” the report noted.
Chris Cornell's death was "sudden and unexpected" and took his wife and family by surprise. https://t.co/S2GCZXHnyX
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 18, 2017
Chris Cornell often spoke about his close relationship with his wife, Vicky Karayiannis, including the support she gave through his grueling tour schedules and his bouts with substance abuse.
When Cornell held a question and answer session with fans through Twitter in 2011, he was asked what he considered his proudest accomplishment.
“My relationship with my wife Vicky,” Cornell answered. “We’ve lived & thrived through the darkest periods & came out stronger & closer.”
In fact, Chris Cornell’s last public message to the world was praise for his wife. In a Mother’s Day message on Twitter, he called her the “perfect mother and the perfect wife.”
— Chris Cornell (@chriscornell) May 14, 2017
It wasn’t only with wife Vicky that Chris Cornell opened up his emotions. The Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman was known for his particularly sensitive lyrics and penchant for poignant love songs, like “Josephine” from his solo project, Higher Truth.
“Maybe sincerity is the new punk,” he told NPR in a 2015 interview. “But to me, I think I have to connect with something emotionally, on some level, or I don’t care about it. And if I don’t care about it, then I don’t think anyone listening to it will, either.”
Chris Cornell was also open about his own struggles with depression, which he hinted at in the 1994 song “Fell on Black Days.”
“I’d noticed in my life there would be periods where I would feel like things aren’t going so well, but they weren’t based on any particular thing,” he said in a 2014 interview via Rolling Stone. “There wasn’t a catastrophe, there wasn’t a relationship split, nobody got in a car wreck. My outlook just changed. It was kind of a terrifying thought. I wanted to write a song about that.”
As Rolling Stone noted, family was very important to Chris Cornell, and his upbringing had a strong effect on his career in the music industry.
“Born Christopher John Boyle in Seattle on July 20th, 1964, Cornell – who took his mother’s maiden name after his parents divorced – was the son of a pharmacist father and accountant mother in Seattle,” the report noted. “He had two brothers and three sisters and jokingly likened his family to The Brady Bunch in interviews.”
Chris Cornell and Vicky Karayiannis were married for 13 years and had two children together. The Soundgarden singer’s wife has not yet issued a public statement in the hours after his death was announced.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]