Soundgarden is on the Mount Rushmore of grunge music (along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains). The band formed in 1984 in Seattle, Washington. While they’re considered a seminal grunge band they really didn’t achieve mainstream success until after the genre became popular.
Soundgarden was founded by Chris Cornell (lead vocals), Kim Thayil (lead guitar), and Hiro Yamamoto (Bass). At early gigs, Cornell played drums and sang. To enable Cornell to concentrate solely on his vocals, the band tapped rhythmists Scott Sundquist and finally Matt Cameron.
Yamaoto left the group in 1990. He was unhappy with his lack of contribution and went back to college. Jason Eveman played bass for Soundgarden in 1990 before being replaced by Ben Shepard.
The band’s current lineup is Cornell, Thayil, Cameron, and Shepard.
Soundgarden reached its commercial and artistic zenith in 1994 thanks to their album Superunkown. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 after selling more than 300,000 copies in its first week. The album contains the smash hits “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman.”
“Black Hole Sun” is the band’s signature song. It was written in 15 minutes by Cornell who said in interviews that the lyrics don’t really mean anything and he was just playing around with words.
“Spoonman” was a song originally composed for the 1992 film Singles. You can actually hear an acoustic version of “Spoonman” in one of its scenes. The song’s title came from “Artis the Spoonman,” a real-life street performer who actually plays the spoons.
In 1996, Soundgarden tickets were collected at Lollapalooza as well as all over the world. In February of the following year, Shepard stormed off the stage after an equipment failure. Exactly two months later, Soundgarden announced that they were calling it quits.
In April of 2010, Soundgarden reunited and played their first concert in more than a dozen years at the Showbox at the Market in Seattle. That summer they headlined Lollapalooza.
In early 2011, Soundgarden began work on what would be their sixth studio album, King Animal. It dropped Nov. 13, 2012. The album peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and received positive reviews from critics.