riginally dubbed Civilian but changing their name when they discovered their choice was taken, Audioslave was a unification of former Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell with 3/4 of the recently disbanded Rage Against The Machine membership of Tom Morello (guitar), Tim Commerford (bass) and Brad Wilk (drums) to release a 2002 self-titled debut featuring a sound as one would expect given the membership but nevertheless proving to be original. 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, but the remaining three members decided to continue on. That first album made the Billboard 200 chart at 7 after selling 162,000 copies in its first week to become certified as Gold. Like a Stone, the second single from the album was released in early 2003. It was the highest-charting single from the album, peaking at one on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts.
Shortly after the release of that first record and confirmed by an interview with Metal Hammer conducted from a clinic payphone, Cornell checked himself into drug rehab due to "a difficult period" for two months.
On May 6, 2005, Audioslave played a free show in Havana, Cuba, in front of 50,000 people at the La Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí (José Martí Anti-Imperialist Stand) venue, a venue purposely built in 2000 to conduct mass protests against the US government. By doing so, Audioslave became the first American rock group to perform an open-air concert in Cuba; the venue not-withstanding, the idea was to have a cultural/music exchange and not one of political gesturing. It was the longest show the band had ever played involving some 26 songs peppered with Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine tracks. The trip was organized with the joint authorization of the United States Department of the Treasury and the Instituto Cubano de la Musica (Cuban Institute of Music).
Out of Exile (2005) proved to be Audioslave's best performance ever by making it to the top of Billboard. The album was received more favorably than the debut; critics noting Cornell's stronger vocals, likely the result of quitting smoking and drinking.
In December 2005, Audioslave received its third Grammy nomination at the 48th Grammy Awards in the "Best Hard Rock Performance" category for Doesn't Remind Me.
A special marketing campaign preceded the new album's release in August 2005, when the artwork was featured on Google Earth as a fictional Utopian island called Audioslave Nation, located in the South Pacific. Several songs from the upcoming album appeared on movie and video game soundtracks.
It was after the third release, Revelations (2006) that the tides turned for Audioslave. Although his official statement to the press said otherwise, Cornell's departure from Audioslave in 2007 was most likely over money, as reported by a friend speaking to the New York Post. He resented that he had done most of the songwriting but had to share the royalties equally with the other band members. As the years passed, more details would emerge about how, in general, the band members were squabbling over the business of the band.
Both Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden would reform in the next decade. There had been much speculation as to the reforming of Audioslave as well, especially by Cornell before his death in 2017.