The rain definitely didn’t stop anyone from driving to the Forum in Los Angeles for the star-studded concert event, I Am The Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell. A string of rock artists and actors joined forces for one night to celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary Chris Cornell.
Hosted by late night TV talk show Jimmy Kimmel, Kimmel set the tone for the night by introducing rock artists and actors all of whom Cornell impacted their lives.
Maroon 5 Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael and Stone Goddard did a rendition of “Seasons.” With his melodic voice, Levine pushed it to the limit as he did his own version of the song. Although Levine's voice sounds nothing like Cornell, he did manage to pull it off and make it his own.
Talented actress and singer Juliette Lewis sang “Be Yourself” coming out with full energy and in a way reminded me of Janis Joplin. Her heartfelt voice definitely touched the hearts of the audience.
Audio Slaves guitarist Tom Morello and Brad Wilk joined Perry Farrell and Geezer Butler to sing their version of “Cochise.” And in a way, this song definitely brought out an emotional Farrell because as Cornell once said in an interview that the song is “me yelling at me looking in the mirror.” Farrell definitely did a lot of yelling and made sure the crowd felt Cornell's message loud and clear.
Artist Brandi Carlile version of Audio Slaves “Like a Stone” brought the crowd to its knees. She was a great choice to sing this rendition. We are used to hearing Cornell’s voice sing “Like a stone” but a woman’s version brought out a different perspective and melodic tone.
Christian Bale, Tom Hanks, Courtney Cox, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others showed up to pay their respects and celebrated Cornell’s talents and achievements. There was in no doubt a great amount of love in the room. Vicky Cornell, who was introduced by actor Josh Brolin, sent out her heartwarming gratitude to his fans, talked about Cornell and their foundation and the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation, which made one million dollars that night.
Alice In Chains William Duvall and Jerry Cantrell went into Cornell’s early animalistic sound with their take of Sound Gardens “Hunted Down” and performed with some Temple of the Dog members.
Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl with his interpretation of “Show How to Live” shut the house down with one of his greatest performances yet. He certainly rocked the house that night with all bandmembers of the Foo Fighters present beating the drums and playing the hell of the guitars.
The one young artist who definitely earned everyone respect was Miley Cyrus. Although she sang a moving rendition of the solo recording “ Hope and Promise Fades” earlier that night, she brought the crowd to a standing ovation with “Say Hello 2 Heaven” by Temple of the Dog pushing her voice to the limit.
Almost all of the artist who performed that night performed for free out of respect for Chris Cornell and his family. Cornell’s eldest daughter Lilly walked to the stage and talked about her dad and what he meant to her. Clips of family videos and music were playing behind her as she talked about the great times they had together.
Reggae singer Ziggy Marley and Cornell’s daughter Toni Cornell sang the rendition of Bob Marley's “Redemption Song.” It was beautifully sung by the two with Marley singing back up with his acoustic guitar. And although it was only her third time on the mic, Chris surely would have been proud of Toni.
Many many artist and bands like The Melvin’s sang there version of “Kicking Machine,” “Leech” and “Spoonman.” Fiona Apple with her soulful voice singing Temple of the Dogs “All Night Thing.” Chris Stapleton singing to “The Keeper,” Rita Wilson singing to “The Promise,” Nikki Costa and Alain Johannes singing to “Disappearing One.” All sang their hearts outs with passion and dignity.
As the night began to hit the home stretch. Metallica’s James’s Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo rocked out to a medley of hits. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship gave a little “kick” to songs like “All Your Lies”, “Master of Puppets,” “Head Injury” and “For Whom The Bells Toll.”.= Metallica definitely made heads bang and start a mosh pit.
Actorfunnymann Jack Black stepped on stage to speak about Cornell and I think he said it best. “Sometimes Chris Cornell would sing a note that didn’t exist, sometimes he would sing a note that was between two real notes, and it would open a portal into another dimension. I don’t know if that’s true. Like, maybe it was probably a real note – it was probably a C-flat – but it was the way he sang it like it ripped a portal to another dimension. You know that wasn’t just some studio magic.” And Black couldn’t have been any more right.
R&B singer Miguel hit the mark with his soulfulness on Temple of the Dog’s “Reach Down,” a performance that was backed up by Nikka Costa’s harmonic voice. Miguel gave an outstanding performance and although he’s primarily an R&B singer his love for grunge music was known that night.
As the night sadly came to an end, Carlile beautifully sung her version of “Black Hole Sun” that featured Peter Framptin on guitar along with guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd. She spilled her soul and heart out with this song that left people yearning for more. Cornell would have definitely been proud of everyone that night and especially his wife and daughters who put all this togther for him. Chris Cornell’s spirit was definitely present in the room with the best seat in the house.