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Music / Soundgarden

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L-R: Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Ben Shepherd

"Black hole sun,
Won't you come,
And wash away the rain?
Black hole sun,
Won't you come,
Won't you come?"
— "Black Hole Sun"

Soundgarden was a Seattle Grunge / Alternative Metal band formed in The '80s and popular in The '90s. Their name comes from a sculpture in Seattle, "A Sound Garden". The band was recognized as one of The Big Four of Grunge (along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains), though they didn't become successful until the genre fully took off with the release of Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten. Their 1994 album Superunknown is considered a masterpiece of the movement. Their music is largely characterized by Epic Riffs, Chris Cornell's distinctive voice, complicated arrangements that highlight the band's instrumental proficiency, and common usage of Uncommon Time, producing a sound many reviewers have described as being Led Zeppelin meets Black Sabbath.

The group broke up in 1997 due to internal conflict, leaving Cornell to form the Super Group Audioslave with the former members of Rage Against the Machine, and later a solo career with polarizing results. Cornell also co-wrote "You Know My Name" with David Arnold for the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006). His music at that time veered into a more pop / hip-hop-oriented direction, causing much backlash among the fanbase. Cameron currently drums for Pearl Jam and has since the Yield tour (he wasn't involved with the Temple of the Dog reunion mentioned below). Thayil played with Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic as the "No WTO Combo" after the Seattle riots of November 1999, and contributed to Dave Grohl's side-project Probot. Shepherd recorded a solo album, In Deep Owl (which Cameron also played on), but it didn't see the light of day until 2013.


In January 2010, Cornell announced through his website that "The Knights of the Sound Table ride again"; the band officially reunited later that year. A new song, "Live to Rise", played during the end credits of The Avengers (2012). In addition, their first new album since their breakup, King Animal, was released in November 2012.

Sadly, the reunion came to a sudden and tragic end in 2017. Chris Cornell hanged himself after a concert in Detroit, Michigan on May 17, allegedly fueled by years of drug and alcohol abuse. The band ended for good a year later as a result.

On January 16, 2019, the surviving members reunited for a tribute concert, "I Am the Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell", which featured the likes of the Foo Fighters, Metallica, Pearl Jam, and Peter Frampton.

Related Acts:
  • Temple of the Dog (Cornell and Cameron)
  • Pearl Jam (Through both TOTD and Cameron)
  • Audioslave (Cornell)
  • Hater (Shepherd and occasionally Cameron)
  • Wellwater Conspiracy (Cameron)

Core line-up:

  • Chris Cornell: Vocals; previously played drums until the band hired Scott Sundquist to play drums, allowing him to focus on just singing. He also contributed rhythm guitar to their songs later.
  • Kim Thayil: Lead Guitar
  • Ben Shepherd: Bass; replaced Hiro Yamamoto in 1990.
  • Matt Cameron: Drums; replaced Sundquist.


  • Screaming Life EP (1987)
  • Fopp EP (1987)
    • These two were later compiled into Screaming Life/Fopp in 1990.
  • Ultramega OK (1988), the debut they weren't very happy with, thanks to recording outside of Seattle with an outside producer (Drew Canulette) instead of Jack Endino (famous for working with every grunge band, ever, at the start).
    Cornell: With Ultramega OK we really liked the songs on that record but we were disappointed in the production.
  • Louder Than Love (1989), a somewhat less stressful recording in spite of Hiro Yamamoto's isolation and eventual departure. Received good reviews but sank on the charts due to distribution problems and Moral Guardians throwing a hissy fit over "Big Dumb Sex" and slapping it with a Parental Advisory sticker. This and their next album were produced by Terry Date.
  • Loudest Love EP (1990)
  • Badmotorfinger (1991), marks the debut of Shepherd and is their first really successful album thanks to being synchronized with the Grunge explosion of the same year. "Jesus Christ Pose", "Outshined", and "Rusty Cage" were all fairly big hits, and while they were never released as singles, "Slaves & Bulldozers" and "Searching with My Good Eye Closed" are both longtime fan favorites.
  • Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas (1992), released as a special edition second disc of Badmotorfinger sold only during Lollapalooza tour, 1992.
  • Superunknown (1994), the band's breakthrough and biggest success, going straight to #1 on the charts. Contains their biggest hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman". Cornell didn't like working with producer Michael Beinhorn because of his obsession with capturing the perfect sounds (commenting that by the time they had recorded a song they'd already rehearsed it to death) but admitted the sound created by him and engineer Brendan O'Brien played a part in the album's success.
  • Songs from the Superunknown EP (1995)
  • Down on the Upside (1996), their last pre-breakup album. This time they opted to self-produce to avoid the tediously slow frustration of Superunknown. It didn't have anywhere near the same impact as their predecessor but was reasonably well-received.
  • A-sides (1997), a greatest hits album rushed out after the band disbanded.
  • Telephantasm (2010), another greatest hits album, including some unreleased songs. The two-disc version features all of their videos.
  • Live on I-5 (2011), a collection of live tracks from a 1996 tour, and a few covers.
  • King Animal (2012), the first since the band's reformation, and, tragically, their final album before Cornell's death.
  • Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path (2015), a collection of mostly rare recordings. The regular edition is triple, Originals, Covers and Oddities. A one-disc edition with just the Originals CD (and even then, with a few songs missing) also exists.

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