The music world got hit with some sad news on Thursday morning.
Chris Cornell, the silver-piped lead vocalist for rock groups Soundgarden and Audioslave was found dead in his Detroit, Michigan hotel room of an apparent suicide.
He was 52.
In this time of the 24-hour, nonstop news cycle, the sudden passing of a beloved songwriter or performer tends to influence what’s playing on our collective cultural jukebox, and issue a fleeting takeover of the sonic zeitgeist — the late soul’s work queued up to be heard for as long as the memory holds.
Cornell’s catalog is currently being given this tribute treatment, with one track standing somewhat alone. It’s a silly, yet earnest number from his days as the frontman for one of Seattle’s most celebrated grunge outfits.
It won a Grammy in 1995 for “Best Metal Performance.”
The man presented in the beginning of the video is the subject of its title: Spoonman.
Artis the Spoonman.
Beginning in 1972, the musician who made a name for himself on the streets of Seattle and elsewhere playing utensils and other offbeat, makeshift instruments was fresh off a stint in the United States military.
He was a sailor.
He also at one point became a U.S. Postal Service worker.
In 1994, Cornell said the following about Artis during an online interview:
It’s more about the paradox of who [Artis] is and what people perceive him as. He’s a street musician, but when he’s playing on the street, he is given a value and judged completely wrong by someone else. They think he’s a street person, or he’s doing this because he can’t hold down a regular job. They put him a few pegs down on the social ladder because of how they perceive someone who dresses differently. The lyrics express the sentiment that I much more easily identify with someone like Artis than I would watch him play.
In addition to Cornell and Soundgarden, Artis has also played with Frank Zappa, Aerosmith, Jim Page and Phish.
He was even once a guest on Late Night with David Letterman.
It’s bookmarked in this clip below: