PEARL JAM bassist Jeff Ament has paid tribute his friend and one-time bandmate Chris Cornell, saying that the SOUNDGARDEN frontman was "the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Seattle."Cornell died in the early hours of May 18, the victim of an apparent suicide by hanging, shortly after SOUNDGARDEN played a concert in Detroit. Toxicology and autopsy reports are pending and will determine if the anti-anxiety drug Ativan, which Chris was taking, was somehow a factor in his death. His funeral took place last Friday (May 26) at the Forever Hollywood cemetery in Los Angeles, attended by bandmates and fellow musicians, including Ament, who gave one of the eulogies. "Jimi Hendrix included, Chris was the greatest songwriter to ever come out of Seattle," Ament told the NBA.com podcast NBA Soundsystem. "Hendrix could play the guitar like crazy, but Chris had the songwriting chops that we all sort of hope to get to… He had a way that he could wrap a melody around odd time signatures and weird parts and make them catchy. And he was a beautiful wordsmith." Ament, who played with Cornell in TEMPLE OF THE DOG, also praised his former bandmate's songwriting and singing abilities. "If you look at his lyrics, he was obviously processing his pain and his depression and all those things," he said. "I think that's part of what people, myself included, responded to when he was singing. And then with the songwriting, he had that voice. There's not too many people who had that many options with their voice. He could inhabit a lot of different characters with that voice." He added: "I feel so lucky I got to be in a project with him and got to hang out with him and just witness his greatness." PEARL JAM guitarist Mike McCready, who also played with Cornell and Ament in TEMPLE OF THE DOG, last week said that Chris gave him "the break into the music business" that he had wanted since he was eleven years old.
PEARL JAM singer Eddie Vedder has not issued a public statement since Cornell's death. He was unable to attend Cornell's funeral due to the start of his solo tour.