Wendorf reveals how Chris Cornell stopped the Robert Plant comparison
that happens. Every generation seems to have a wailing rock singer with an astonishing range comparable to one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Led Zeppelin and their singer Robert Plant. It happened to Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell repeatedly in the band’s early days, and Monster Magnet’s Dave Wendorf shared a tip he once gave Cornell about one simple step he could do to help downplay those comparisons.
Speaking with Ultimate Guitar, Monster Magnet Cornell recalls the early days, “What I remember is that Chris was kind of a messianic leader. Like old school. Even though he was doing it… not with a nod or a wink, but he was doing it on… Almost reluctantly. He was doing it in an athletic way. He was like ‘the guy in the shirt.’ That’s why I couldn’t believe he would come up and complain, ‘Oh… these people are looking at me like I’m Robert Plant or something.’
Wendorf then made his proposal. “I remember saying, ‘Okay buddy, why don’t you wear your damn shirt? You’re sending signals here!'” the singer told Cornell. “When you go out with a microphone in your hand and look up at the ceiling without your shirt on, it’s like you’re trying to be Robert Plant. They didn’t get it. But I think he was trying to play it. He-she.”
Speaking of Cornell’s early struggles with journalism and perception, Wendorf continues, “All I know is that I remember having a conversation with him once—he was a very nice guy—and he was talking about it. And I was like, ‘Just silly.’ Eat it. Are you crazy? So If I looked like you and sounded like you… I would have already built platforms! No one cares as much as you think they do. They want you that way. They don’t mind. The smart ones will find out you’re having fun, but the stupid people and the people who think they’re smart will go along with the current press that was saying “Fuck you if you make any money or have any fun.”
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Further reflecting on early Soundgarden’s energy and presence, Monster Magnet’s frontman explained, “Ben (Shepard) was maniacal — he was like Spider-Man on stage, jumping around, and he was dragging his bass along the floor. And Chris was just looking like a million bucks, and he was singing every Night. The audience was the most generous to a singer I’ve ever seen – they were marching him around the audience to the back of these stages, up and down the stairs. And he really looked like Jesus Christ. I thought, ‘This is amazing.’ “And his voice was amazing. And Kim (Thyel) was doing his job, just flying. And Matt (Cameron) is one of the best drummers I think I’ve ever seen. So, it was all there. It was real rock music. They were going for it.”
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