Chris Cornell's friend, Detroit artist and musician Kevin Morris, who attended the singer's final show with SOUNGARDEN on Wednesday (May 17) at Detroit's Fox Theatre, has told People.com that something was definitely wrong with Chris at the gig.
"The whole performance, you could tell something wasn't right," Morris said. "Into the second song, he started getting disoriented or something. I just figured he wasn't feeling well.”
"Everybody felt there was something going on," Morris continued. "Like he wasn't with us. Like he was on a cloud. It was like he was really fighting to get through the show."
He added: "What was troubling him I don't think we'll ever know. I think he was a little nervous about playing in Detroit, the music capital of the world, and he took a little too much of the Ativan."
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzodiazepine, that is used to treat anxiety, drug withdrawal, agoraphobia and seizure disorders, among other things. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serious side effects of using Ativan include worsening depression, unusual mood or behavior and suicidal thoughts.
A bodyguard gave Chris Cornell two Ativans before his suicide and found his dead body. According to a police report, the bodyguard gave Cornell two of the anti-anxiety pills after the Detroit concert. Cornell's attorney said that the singer had a prescription for the medication.
Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has worked with everyone from actors and musicians to everyday folks as an addiction specialist, told 95.5 KLOS that, as a recovering addict, Cornell "should never have been exposed to" Ativan. He added (hear audio below): "Benzodiazepines can make people suicidal. It's the hidden epidemic. People have gotta remember — we're getting awareness about opiates. Benzos, over a long term, particularly — and by long term, I mean more than two weeks — are a very dangerous class of medications, and extremely dangerous if you have a history of addiction."
Cornell admitted to becoming a "daily drug user" at the age of just 13 and returning to drug use after SOUNDGARDEN disbanded in 1997. He said he used "everything," describing himself as a "pioneer" in the use of OxyContin. In the mid-2000s, he went to rehab. "I'm not sure if it was the best place for me, but it worked," he later said.