How Chris Cornell's Guitar Strap Will Help Addiction Recovery

Before his death by suicide in May, the rocker donated his guitar strap, now part of a timepiece by watchmaker Nixon that will be auctioned to benefit the Recording Academy's MusiCares.
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Chris Cornell

Rocker Chris Cornell — who died May 18 by suicide after battling substance abuse for years — is among the A-list musicians who have donated personal items ranging from guitar straps to leather pants that California-based watch and accessory brand Nixon has fashioned into the Rock LTD Collection, a one-of-a-kind capsule collection of watches.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit MusiCares MAP Fund, a charity arm of the Recording Academy dedicated to addiction recovery treatment. Other artists who donated items as part of the collection include Elton John, Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, and Iggy Pop.

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares, praised the bold-faced musicians who have contributed pieces over the years, and applauded Cornell as "legendary, unique, iconic, thoughtful, provocative and the penultimate musical artist."

The collection, available in time for the holidays, ranges from 25 to 30 pieces with prices ranging from $1,200 to $1,800 except for the Cornell piece which will tour to Nixon’s flagship locations in New York, London and Paris in the spring of 2018 before being auctioned off at a MusiCares benefit in May 2018.

Cornell, the Soundgarden and Audioslave rocker, had long been dedicated to MusiCares. In 2007, he was honored alongside promoter Jeff McClusky at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his support of the organization and his efforts in helping other addicts. Nixon co-founder Chad DiNenna tells THR that Cornell agreed to donate the guitar strap before his death and that his family was consulted on how to move forward now that he's gone. "This is what he would want," DiNenna says.

Says widow Vicky Cornell, "Addiction is a disease, and we lose far too many loved ones to the illness each day. MusiCares is a crucial organization and the MusiCares MAP Fund 100 percent supports the music community in its fight to protect those battling this affliction."

Nixon launched the collection as a benefit for MusiCares in 2005, and this year marks the seventh Rock LTD line (it has taken sporadic breaks over the years). Descriptions of this year's range include: John, a Sentry Chrono designed from donated leather paisley-patterned belt; Grohl, a Sentry designed from donated plaid flannel shirt; Novoselic, a Sentry designed from donated Sound City denim jacket; and Pop, a Sentry designed from donated leather chain wallet and belt.

Each watch is individually hand-numbered to denote its rarity. Additionally, each watch features a custom, etched case back with the name of the artist and is packaged with a certificate of authenticity from Nixon. Rockers who have previously donated items as part of the Rock LTD Collections include Ozzy Osbourne, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Eddie Van Halen, Steven Tyler, Ringo Starr, Anthony Kiedis and Flea, and Dave Navarro, among others.

This delivery of the Rock LTD Collection will be available at global retailers, including Ron Robinson, Sun Diego and Toronto’s Got Style. The collection will also be available at Nixon flagship locations including Nixon Chadstone and Bondi (AUS), Nixon London Carnaby, Nixon London Seven Dials, Nixon Paris and Nixon NYC. 

Says DiNenna, "Each piece is unique and to help spread the word for MusiCares."

And it shows, says Portnow. "Since MusiCares has a particular focus on helping people to achieve sobriety and have good, productive, happy lives, we are at the forefront, we believe, of getting the message out how important it is for everybody to pay attention to these issues — particularly in our creative community. This (collection) not only raises awareness, but provides a tangible way to help others."

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.