American rockstar Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, has died at the age of 52, reported The Sun.

The death of the Black Hole Sun singer was confirmed by a representative last night.

Brian Bumbery said the singer died on Wednesday night in Detroit, shortly after a performance in the city.

He called the death “sudden and unexpected” adding that his wife and family were in shock.

Fans who watched him with the re-formed Soundgarden last night have tweeted a mixture of praise and disbelief at the news the rocker has died.

Shelly Bastian posted a picture of Cornell on stage with the message: “You rocked Detroit Rock City.”

Gary Graham tweeted: “Friend posted photo of Soundgarden in Detroit just a few hours ago. Sad to see you go Chris.”

The statement added that the family would be working with a medical examiner to determine the cause and asked for privacy.

Dad-of-three Cornell has been due to play at US festival Rock the Range in Columbus tonight.

He was a pioneer of the 1990s grunge movement and had won many awards for his vocals.

His career was launched as the lead singer of Soundgarden with hits including Black Hole Sun and Fell on Black Days.

The band continue to tour together and reportedly had plans for a seventh album.

He went on to have a  successful solo career, releasing five albums, as well as finding success with other bands including Audioslave.

In 2011 Cornell spoke about kicking alcohol. He said: “There are not bottles of Jack Daniels around or beers.”

He added: “You have top want it, and not do that c*** anymore or you will never stop and it will just kill you.”