Soundgarden will always be viewed, first and foremost, as one of the four cornerstone bands of 1990s’ Grunge; but the Seattle-based quartet actually predated the movement and, as of late, transcended it, by successfully regrouping after a lengthy hiatus. The roots of Soundgarden date back to the mid-'80s, when guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto relocated from Chicago to Seattle (along with another friend, Bruce Pavitt, later to found the famed independent record label Sub Pop). Once there, the pair connected with local drummer, then vocalist, Chris Cornell and by 1986, Matt Cameron had assumed the new band’s drum stool. The following year saw Soundgarden’s debut single and EP released via the likewise newly launched Sub Pop, followed in late ’88 by the ‘Ultramega OK’ album, which later earned a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. By then, Soundgarden had signed a major label deal with A&M Records, put out 1989’s influential ‘Louder than Love’ album, replaced Yamamoto with bassist Ben Shepherd, and moved their sound beyond its SST-inspired hardcore origins towards a distinctive blend of heavy metal, indie, college and punk rock — all building blocks for Grunge. And then, once Nirvana’s paradigm-shifting arrival had catapulted the entire Seattle “scene” to mainstream status, Soundgarden went on to contributed two of the genre’s seminal works in 1991’s ‘Badmotorfinger’ and ’94’s ‘Superunknown,’ both of which shifted millions of copies worldwide. But the pressures of stardom and straight-up fatigue had clearly taken a toll on the band’s internal relationships and creative resources by the release of 1996’s lackluster ‘Down on the Upside,’ leading to the announcement of Soundgarden’s breakup in April of ’97. Cornell embarked on a solo career and later hooked up with 3/4 of Rage Against the Machine in Audioslave, while Cameron joined fellow Grunge starts Pearl Jam, and Thayil and Shephered busied themselves with lower profile side projects. Then, in 2010, the four men resurrected Soundgarden for selective touring and wound up recording a sixth studio album entitled ‘King Animal’ — all of which proved their talents and popularity remained intact for further adventures.
- Selected Discography: ‘Louder than Love’ (1989), ‘Badmotorfinger’ (1991), ‘Superunknown’ (1994)
- Related Artists: Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Mudhoney
- Further Reading: 10 Best Soundgarden Songs