Audioslave was an American rock supergroup formed in Los Angeles, California, in 2001 and disbanded in 2007. The four-piece band consisted of then-former Soundgarden lead singer/rhythm guitarist, Chris Cornell, and then-former Rage Against the Machine members, Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass/backing vocals), and Brad Wilk (drums). Critics first described Audioslave as an amalgamation of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine, but by the band’s second album, Out of Exile, it was noted that they had established a separate identity.
Audioslave’s trademark sound was created by blending 1970s hard rock with 1990s alternative rock. Moreover, Morello incorporated his well-known, unconventional guitar solos into the mix. As with Rage Against the Machine, the band prided themselves on the fact that all sounds on their albums were produced using only guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.
In its six years of existence, Audioslave released three albums, received three Grammy nominations, and became the first American rock band to perform an open-air concert in Cuba. Audioslave disbanded in February 2007 when Cornell issued a statement announcing that he was permanently leaving the band “due to irresolvable personality conflicts as well as musical differences.” The 2007 Rage Against the Machine reunion and tour involving the rest of the band as well as solo albums released that same year by Morello and Cornell cemented the supergroup’s permanent demise.
Audioslave’s history dates back to October 18, 2000, when Rage Against the Machine’s lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha announced he was leaving the band, citing a breakdown in its “decision-making process”. Rage Against the Machine broke up as a result of de la Rocha’s departure, but the remaining three members of the band—Tim Commerford, Tom Morello, and Brad Wilk—decided to stay together and announced plans to continue with a new vocalist. Several vocalists jammed with the three, including B-Real of Cypress Hill, but they did not want another rapper or anybody who sounded like de la Rocha. Music producer and friend Rick Rubin later suggested that they play with Chris Cornell, the ex-frontman of Soundgarden. Rubin also persuaded the three of them to go into group therapy with performance coach Phil Towle after the breakup. Rubin was confident that with the right new voice Rage Against the Machine had the potential to become a better band; he believed “it could turn into a Yardbirds-into-Led Zeppelin scenario.” Commerford later credited Rubin for being the catalyst that brought Audioslave together. He called him “the angel at the crossroads” because “if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today.”