Fantastic Negrito Remembers Chris Cornell: 'He Believed In Me More Than I Believed In Myself'

Chris Cornell and Fantastic Negrito on tour in 2016.  (Paul Lorkowski)

Ed. note: Chris Cornell, who died early this morning in Detroit at the age of 52, was a master of self-reinvention. Though he previously struggled with addiction, the singer reportedly spent the last four years of his life sober -- a time period that coincided with a burst of renewed productivity, as he toured the world solo, with a reunited Temple of the Dog, and finally with Soundgarden. 

Oakland's own Fantastic Negrito, helmed by Xavier Dphrepaulezz, joined Cornell on a handful of these tours beginning in 2016. We asked Dphrelpaulezz to share a few words about Cornell.

When I heard Chris Cornell wanted me to open for him in Europe in 2016 [on the musician's acoustic Higher Truth tour], I was terrified. The idea of standing up there with a guitar facing 3,000 seated, hardcore Chris Cornell fans filled me with anxiety. I really didn't think his audience would be into what I was doing.

I flew from Australia to Norway to do the first show. When I arrived Chris greeted me with enthusiasm -- he believed in me more than I believed in myself. After playing the first show in Oslo I decided to sit and watch Chris. I started learning how to stand and deliver the songs to a seated audience by observing a master.

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We finished the European tour and said our goodbyes. A month later, he asked me to open the American-Canadian tour. I was shocked and honored. We finished that tour and again said our goodbyes. Then he asked me to open up the Temple of the Dog shows [in the fall of 2016] with my band. After that I nicknamed him "Christmas Cornell."

No artist has supported me more than Chris Cornell. His heart was as big as his legendary vocals. One of the greatest rock vocalists of all time. A master songwriter, performer, and guitarist. I love my brother Chris Cornell, and I will miss him dearly.

My deepest condolences to his family.

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