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5 True Stories That Shatter Your Image of Famous Rock Icons

#2. Chris Cornell Makes an Album with Timbaland

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images Entertainment

In case you don't recognize the name, Chris Cornell is the former (and once again current) lead singer of '90s alt-rock legends Soundgarden. Along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains, Soundgarden made de-tuned guitars and lyrics about how depressing it is to live in Washington state the thing to do in rock music for most of the '90s before disbanding near the end of the decade.

The post-Soundgarden years, unfortunately, haven't always been kind to Chris Cornell. His first solo album, Euphoria Morning, was pretty well liked by critics and fans, but it also came out at the height of the teen pop craze of the late '90s, so it mostly went unnoticed by the general public.

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Here's what it looks like, in case you want to continue not buying it.

That was followed by a few years of marital strife and chemical dependency issues intercut with the occasional release of a new Audioslave album. That's the band he formed with the non-speaking parts of Rage Against the Machine, and it kept him fairly relevant in the years after the turn of the millennium.

All good things come to an end though, and so did Audioslave. Chris Cornell left in 2007 and, unbeknownst to me until just now, released another solo album that same year. That "unbeknownst to me" part isn't a joke. I did not know this album even existed until I started researching this article. That's what I mean when I say those post-Soundgarden years haven't been kind to Chris Cornell. When this guy isn't in a band, people just do not give a shit what he's up to.

He tried to change all that with his next solo album though. It was called Scream. If that title sounds badass, keep in mind that it's also the name of a very popular Michael Jackson song. See, the album was produced, entirely, by pop music impresario Timbaland. You know, the guy behind "rocking" hits by the likes of Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado?

Scott Wintrow/Getty Images Entertainment
Seen here opening for Sabbath in 1973.

Right, for some reason, it was decided he should be the guy to bring Chris Cornell howling back into the spotlight. But on what grounds, though? Did Timbaland even have any experience with "rock" music prior to this moment? Sure, check this out:

That's "Apologize" by One Republic. They went on to be a pretty huge band in their own right, so people often forget the song that propelled them to glory is from a Timbaland solo album. The people in charge of Chris Cornell's career knew it though, and somewhere along the way, it was decided that this was the sound he needed. And that's exactly what he got.

You don't have to watch it if you don't want to, just know that it's terrible. Unsurprisingly, fans of Chris Cornell were not impressed.

This story doesn't come without a silver lining, though. An album like Scream is the music equivalent of an alcoholic hitting rock bottom. Once you realize you're there, up is the only other place you can go. For Chris Cornell, "up" came in the form of burying the hatchet with his ex-bandmates and finally releasing another Soundgarden record.

It didn't do much to change the fact that it's been a long time since anyone cared about Chris Cornell, but still, it's a step in the right direction.

#1. Axl Rose Gets Beat Up by Tommy Hilfiger

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images Entertainment

Axl Rose and Tommy Hilfiger walk into a bar. It already sounds like the setup for a joke. That's why we've already covered the now-legendary fight that resulted from that improbable premise once before here on Cracked. If you read that article (which was published before I started writing here, so I understand if you didn't), you already know the lurid details. For the rest of you, here's a quick refresher:

At a nightclub called The Plumm in NYC, during a birthday celebration for actress Rosario Dawson ...

Theo Wargo/Getty Images Entertainment
Of course

... a fight broke out between former hard rock badass Axl Rose and fashion designer to the mid-90s rap stars Tommy Hilfiger.

Valerie Macon/Getty Images Entertainment
On the right, I think.

The dispute happened after Rose had the audacity to move a drink belonging to Hilfiger's girlfriend. I know, I was surprised too. That's not the point, though. The point is, Axl Rose didn't start this fight, he was just trying to keep some chick's drink from falling off the table. You can bet your ass he ended that fight, though.

Unfortunately for his place in rock and roll badass lore, he ended it by getting crushed in the face by a dude who makes polo shirts for a living. It's documented in the public record that he didn't even fight back. When he got punched. By Tommy Hilfiger. For most people, the only consequence of that will be the added stress that comes with figuring out how best to invest your out of court settlement money. For Axl Rose, though, it's a veritable public relations nightmare.

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images Entertainment
Much like every picture he's taken since 1994.

At least it would have been if it happened at a time when Axl Rose still had a public in need of being related to. This was 2006, though, a few years before the long delayed Chinese Democracy was finally released. You could argue that it was a good thing that nobody cared what Axl Rose was up to when this happened. By 2006, he was already firmly established as the laughing stock that he is today, so there wasn't much credibility to lose, even after an incident so terribly unrocking as this one.

And that, ultimately, is the saddest thing about the Tommy Hilfiger incident. It proved that Axl Rose was so far removed from his days as an icon of rock debauchery that we weren't even surprised when he got beat up by a fashion designer.


Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.


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