DETROIT (AP) - The family of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell is disputing "inferences that Chris knowingly and intentionally" killed himself.
The family said in a statement that without toxicology tests completed, they can't be sure what led to his death, or if any substances were involved. According to lawyer Kirk Pasich, Cornell had a prescription for the anti-anxiety drug Ativan, which he said has various side effects.
The musician was found dead in his Detroit hotel room Wednesday after performing at a concert.
PHOTOS | Chris Cornell dead at 52 (story continues below gallery)
PHOTOS | Chris Cornell dead at 52
Cornell's wife, Vicky Cornell, said in the statement that when she spoke to her husband after the Detroit show, he told her he may have taken "an extra Ativan or two" and was slurring his words.
The medical examiner in Detroit said Cornell hanged himself. Police told two Detroit newspapers the singer was found with a band around his neck.
Cornell's body was discovered about an hour after the band wrapped up its performance at the Fox Theatre, a career-spanning showcase of the music that put Soundgarden on the vanguard of the Seattle rock revolution in the 1990s.
Cornell was widely regarded as one of the era’s premier rock singers, with a rich four-octave voice that could nestle into expressive ballads or power an explosive number with equal ease.
Detroit was swept into the world’s entertainment spotlight early Thursday as news of Cornell’s death quickly circulated.
Cornell becomes the latest tragic figure from a rock era that has seen the passing of contemporaries such as Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots) and Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone). Cornell was particularly close to Staley and Wood, and paid musical tribute to both after their deaths.
Soundgarden roared out of Seattle in the late ‘80s, drawing national buzz in the metal and hard rock world ahead of the grunge music explosion that became the city’s calling card in the '90s. Among the band's key influences were Detroit punk-metal pioneers the Stooges and MC5, and Cornell equated the musical atmosphere of his hometown to the Motor City.
"Seattle had much more of a hard-rock focus and guitar-rock focus than other cities did," he told the Associated Press in 2011. "It was like a Detroit, only northwest."
As Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains broke big onto the national landscape, Cornell and company remained central to the scene, even its emotional core. Cornell was part of the brief band project Temple of the Dog, formed in 1990 with members of Pearl Jam, and that group’s lone, self-titled album later sold a million-plus copies as the grunge phenomenon took off.
Cornell was widely regarded as one of his generation’s most formidable rock singers, a powerful and wide-ranged belter with a complex melodic sensibility to go atop Soundgarden’s dark, muscular sound.
After a pair of EPs and a trio of well-received albums — “Ultramega OK” (1988), “Louder Than Love” (1989) and “Badmotorfinger” (1991) — Soundgarden scored its biggest success with 1994’s “Superunknown,” which topped the charts while yielding several enduring rock-radio staples, including “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman.”
One more album followed before the Soundgarden’s 1997 breakup. Cornell spent the first decade of the 2000s focused primarily on a series of solo releases and his work with Audioslave, founded with members of Rage Against the Machine.
Soundgarden reunited in 2010, releasing the album “King Animal” two years later. Wednesday’s Fox show was the band’s third Detroit performance since the reunion.
The band closed its Fox show with a lengthy performance of 1991's "Slaves & Bulldozers," seguing at one point into Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying." The song combo has been a closing number at other dates on Soundgarden's 2017 tour.
The band finished its Fox show at about 11 p.m.
About an hour later, Detroit police received a 911 call from Cornell’s family friend, who had conducted a well-being check on the musician at his room in the MGM Grand Detroit.
The family friend made his way into the room, found Cornell unresponsive on the bathroom floor just after midnight and immediately called 911, Detroit Police Media Relations Director Michael Woody said.
"Based on our observations at the scene, we are investigating it as a possible suicide," Woody said hours before Cornell's death was ruled a suicide. "We’re not saying specifically why.”
Dontae Freeman, digital media relations manager for the police department, said Cornell's body was discovered after his wife called the family friend and asked him to check on Cornell. That friend forced himself into the room and made the discovery, he said.
“He was found in his room with a band around his neck," Freeman said.
Police said Cornell was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s an open and active investigation still,” Woody said Thursday afternoon, noting investigators don't have the autopsy report yet.
A representative for Cornell, Brian Bumbery, said in a statement to the Associated Press that the death was “sudden and unexpected.’’
Cornell had spoken throughout his life about periods of drug use, including a 1994 Rolling Stone article in which he called himself a “daily drug user at 13’’ who quit by age 14.
After Soundgarden's initial 1997 breakup, Cornell returned to heavy drug use, he told London's Guardian newspaper in a 2009 interview. He described himself in that article as a pioneer in the abuse of the opiate OxyContin and said he had gone to rehab.
PHOTOS: People we've lost in 2017
PHOTOS: People we've lost in 2017
Material from the Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press was used in this report