Susan Silver

American music manager

Susan Jean Silver (born July 17, 1958) is an American music manager, best known for managing Seattle rock bands such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Screaming Trees. Silver also owns the company Susan Silver Management, and co-owns the club The Crocodile in Seattle.


  • I loved him and will always love him. He was like a brother to me. He was this little broken but gentle spirit. We did everything we could think of to help him choose life, but sadly the disease won instead.
  • I met Chris [Cornell] at the end of '85 at a Halloween party, at an artist studio in Belltown, and I was out on the town that night with my dear frien Chuck, a.k.a. Upchuck from the Fags. And Chuck dresses me up as him in drag – he was in drag most of the time – so I had a long blond fright wig and a kimono and pancake makeup. Soundgarden was playing the party, as a three-piece, with Chris on drums and vocals. They were amazing. I'd worked with Ben McMillan in a vintage clothing store in town called Tootsie's. And Chris came in to talk to him, and the story that Chris told me is that I caught his eye. So he kept coming in and trying to get my attention, but I paid him no mind. Partly because I had just broken up with Gordon earlier that year, so I was in a pretty dark space. After the band played, Chris came up to me and recognized me, which he got huge points for because I was in full drag-queen regalia. He said the band were trying to get a show in Vancouver, so I told him that I was going up there to a show in the next week, and if he wanted to meet, I would take a tape for them. So we met, and he gave me that tape, and we saw each other a week later at the Vogue. After that, we went to a 24-hour dinner. We tried to go back to my house, but I'd lost my keys. We made out for a while, and then he took me to my mom's in West Seattle, and it was just on from there. At the time, it was healing for me.
  • One show at the Ditto, (Cornell), had written all over himself, and was just all over the club. I remember there was a fish involved and a lot writhing around (laughs). He'd get into a trance practically, in those early days. He covered every square inch of some of those places on some nights. [citation needed]
  • The shirtlessness? I never even thought about it. Honest to God, it's just what he does. Love is blind, I suppose. The female attention never fuffled me. I felt we had such security in our relationship then that it never occured to me. I remember a show in Philadelphia in the early '90s, some girl got on her boyfriend's shoulder and was screaming, "Chris, I wanna fuck you!" or some other equally poetic phrase. Come on. You're embarrassing out entire sisterhood here.
  • Alice in Chains filmed the show at Moore theatre in 1990 and that was the show this new band Mookie Blaylock opened for them. Everyone was still reeling from Andy [Andrew Wood]'s death... and they hadn't really played out yet. The band came on and Chris [Cornell] carried Eddie [Vedder] onto the stage – he was on his shoulders. It was one of those super powerful moments, where it was all a big healing for everybody. He came out as this guy who had all the credibility in the world - in terms of people in Seattle - and Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone were loved bands. Andy was such an endearing personality. It was a hard thing to do - to show up after people die. And Chris bringing Eddie out, and pointing at him, as much to say, 'This is your guy now.'
  • Layne's death was such a deep, deep loss. And there's that question of, what do you do with a tragedy in life? Do we stop living? Or do we go on? Looking at the story that that record [Black Gives Way to Blue] tells, and then the beautiful love letter that Jerry [Cantrell] wrote to Layne to close the record [the title track], tells a very complete story. And it has been a really cathartic experience, and extremely healing. Extremely healing.

"Zen and the Art of Silver Management" (1996)

Zen and the Art of Silver Management. ROCKRGRL Magazine (1996).
  • I'm really respectful of creativity. My whole waking day is based on the idea that we are here to create something. What happens with the majority of people is that their legacy is procreation as opposed to creation. It so often becomes a substitute and people are unfulfilled. Since I never had any confidence in my own creative process, I turned my energy into the process of supporting creative people.
  • I'm sure I've been the butt of a lot of sexist jokes, especially since I got involved with major labels, being a woman with no experience, living in Seattle, managing her boyfriend's band. It was prime material for jokes, but I didn't get in the middle of those sort of cocktail conversations or listen to that whispering. I was up here with my dream that people would care about what Seattle has to offer musically.
  • One thing about management is it doesn't matter whether you're someone's girlfriend, wife, sister, or siamese twin. Simply put, you are as succesful as your acts are. If my clients never had gold records, nobody would care. But if things go well then there's a perception that someone must have done a good job, that the artist is good, and that the manager must not be too much of an idiot. When you get a gold record, suddenly you get more respect. Likewise, if you get double platinum, suddenly people become very respectful.
  • We are the hub of the wheel. Our job is to create a wheel around the bands, to make sure they have the best legal advice, live performance advice, video production advice, everything - even collecting the best accounting team. It's putting all those people in place, and once they are in place, then it's continuing to build on that foundation so their careers continue to go in a forward direction.
    • On her job as a manager

"Silver's Golden Touch" (1996)

Silver's Golden Touch (January 1996).
  • Early in my life I was inspired by the creative process. Music was definitely an important part of that. I did lots of volunteer work with large organizations and theater groups and things that involved music. I just basically started as a professional volunteer, and then in '80 a couple of friends started a club and I helped out at that. It was an all-ages club in '80,'81 and part of '82 called Metropolis. I learned a lot about all manner of things about putting on a show, the crowds and different people - we had all kinds of music in there, from reggae to punk to jazz to good ol' rock 'n' roll. I didn't have goals of being in the music business - in fact, I was studying Chinese [language] at the time. That was my goal at the time. In the back of my mind,I thought this would be a great thing to know and maybe someday I would be able to bring music to China. But at one point during the summer, one of the partners [in the club] was on vacation and the other ended up in the hospital. I was doing a full-time summer course in Chinese, but someone needed to run the club. That's pretty much the point where rock'n'roll stole my soul.
  • After Metropolis was forced to close, I was putting shows on wherever I could find a venue, not working in a particular club. And then on bigger shows I was doing production work, whether it was running or catering, working in the production office - different aspects of working for the biggest promoters in town. The shows that I was putting on were, at the time, very underground. Shows like Soul Asylum, Faith No More, Meat Puppets, Sonic Youth. I never worked for any record companies though. The only contact that I had with record companies was in the'70s, being an impressionable teenager and all the promotion people from the different record companies happened to live in this neighbourhood that I lived in. It was an easy call for me to say, "I wouldn't want to do that!" [laughing]. You have to remember the '70s were a strange time in history, let alone in music history.
  • I started managing in '83. The U-Men were the first, and then a group called The First Thought. A real pivotal moment for me was when a friend was working with one of the early and very influential bands in Seattle in the early '80s, called The Blackouts. They had moved away and had wanted to come back and put on a couple of shows in the area, and asked me to help them. Putting on these shows and working with the Blackouts, who happened to have a deal with Wax Trax!, was really a big moment for me, personally. I know that experience made a big difference in my wanting to pursue a career in the music business: putting on their shows definitely gave me this kind of confidence that I didn't have before - even though one of the shows was riddled with challenges that should probably have dissuaded me from taking one more step towards the music business.
  • When the bands and the Seattle scene started taking off, I had been at it for so long that it felt very natural - it was just 'this is another day in the life'. Not having been through it before, there wasn't the perspective to say,' Oh my God, we're in the eye of the hurricane.' It was just, 'This is what we do today. Okay, just one more thing. One more thing to accomplish today'. I guess the part that felt...the only thing that started to feel strange, this could be strange or this could be detrimental to people, was when the press started taking pot shots at people personally. Digging for dirt in the artists' private lives, being exploitative of the artist. That was the hardest part. Suddenly this private world that we had was public. Which was okay, that was exciting, except when the press got...when they looked for sensational avenues to report on. Which there wasn't for a long time. There really wasn't [any]. They had to keep coming back and saying, 'I guess all they know how to do up there is make amazing music'. Which is what continues to happen. The Seattle backlash and highly circulated reports that there was nothing new in Seattle after '93 just keep getting proved wrong again and again. I love that.
  • Chris [Cornell, Soundgarden's vocalist] and I got married in '90 and we've been together since '85. We learned, luckily, sort of early on, that we needed to make time for business and that I couldn't bring business home every day, as was my inclination. It was such an exciting time time for me in the late-eighties and early-nineties; they were pretty unbelievable. Just to feel things brewing in the late-eighties without having the goal of ' we're gonna make this into an international superstardom'. But just that it was growing and we were all gathering experience and momentum. And those were really exciting times that I wanted to talk about twenty-four hours a day. I needed to learn not to bring business home so I wouldn't strictly represent business every time I walked in the door. [Chris and I] just created boundaries. Our relationship is a little-known secret because it's nobody's fuckin' business [laughing]!

Quotes about Susan Silver

  • Blush: Chris, how does it work being married to your manager [Susan Silver]? Is it ever like Spinal Tap?
    Chris Cornel: Not really. It’s more of a push-and-pull thing. Sometimes she’ll do something the band doesn’t agree with, and I’ll get defensive of her; and then the band will do something she doesn’t like, and I’ll get defensive of the band. It’s not just my problem; everybody has to try to be sensitive to the fact that that’s the situation. It’s got to be hard for everyone at some point or another. I’m proud that it works as well as it does. Her being engrossed in the music business as her job and my trying to avoid it are the biggest obstacles to having a normal relationship.
  • Initially, I didn’t think her being our manager was a good idea. But everyone agreed to keep a levelheaded attitude about it. And she’s so protective as a manager that I don’t think anyone’s felt they weren’t being taken care of. [citation needed]
  • There have been situations where I get caught in the middle because Susan will be angry with the band, and I come out championing the band and getting angry with her. And there’s been situations where it’s the complete turnaround. But if I wasn’t married to her, the other guys in the band would probably have a lot easier time feeling like they could call her an asshole if they wanted to.
  • In a world where the music industry is a really crazy place, Susan is an island of sanity. Out of all the bands in Seattle, Soundgarden managed their career the most carefully and thoughtfully for over a decade. They did everything on their own terms--even their breakup that everyone wanted to find dirt on, where there was none. It's all attributable to Susan. She just gets it.
  • You have a sense of responsibility and a bond with this creature, whether it's a human or an animal, and we've always had an amazing bond with animals. We didn't even know we had that in common when we first got together, because neither of us had any pets. Then I got Susan a cat from the pound, and she just freaked out on it. She still has that cat. It sleeps on her chest every night. As time went on, I realizes, 'Wow', not only is she a great pet owner, she'd be a great mother'.
  • I was so fiercely independent that falling in love was a really terrifying experience. The first time I was in love to the degree that I realized this person has suddenly become so important to me that I can't imagine life without her.
  • Susan [Silver] gives me a huge amount of room to be that recluse, and also the incentive to not be. It’s worth a lot to see her be excited about being around someone who’s not afraid of his shadow. It’s good for her. She digs it. But we’re becoming more alike. When she comes home to me from a day at the office, where she’s talking to people from all over the world about all sorts of important things... well, I probably haven’t answered the phone in seventy-two hours. She knows that when she comes home she’s going to get privacy, because I’m not like ‘These are my South American friends and... honey, have you ever really listened to that first Van Halen album?’ She’s the best roommate I’ve ever had. People are sort of perplexed, as to how this could possibly work in this grunge-music, super-druggy era where everybody is so emotionally screwed up. Not only is Soundgarden not OD’ing on heroin, but the singer’s wife manages the band, there’s no weird Yoko Ono trip, and she’s not trying to make us dress up like lions and unicorns.
  • Susan's involvement in Metropolis was just monumental. She had a great business savvy. She's a woman with a huge heart. There's a lot of clubs where the owners are never present – they're shrewd businessmen counting cash in the office – but Susan, Hugo, and myself were always out there; we were part of the crowd and directly involved. So 95 percent of the people who walked through the doors of Metropolis knew us by name.
  • Now the most important thing I’d like to do is introduce you to his eldest child. The daughter of Susan Silver, our compatriot in music and art and community from the very beginning, whose vision and perseverance helped create the music scene in Seattle that went on to change the world. Thank you Susan. [Lily’s] humanity and sensitivity has been self evident from the time I met her as a baby through all her 18 years. And like her father, she’s a singer and an artist and an intellectual, and has wisdom beyond her years. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce Lily Cornell Silver.
  • Stone Gossard's speech during the Chris Cornell tribute concert on January 16, 2019. **Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard and Chris Cornell's daughter Lily Cornell Emotional Speeches at Chris Cornell Tribute Concert (January 16, 2019). YouTube (January 16, 2019).
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