Soundgarden Biography

You are a unique individual. You are not content to simply listen to the music of Soundgarden. You need more. Information. History. Facts. Timetables.
Questions about the band are burning a hole in your brain, and you need answers.
What does badmotorfinger mean?
How long has Kim had his beard?
What is the superunknown?
Why did Chris cut his hair?
These are all questions that you shouldn't be wasting your time on.

This is the story of Soundgarden from their inception up to the end, detailing their history and the work they've done. It began back in 1981, when Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto decided to leave the high winds and gloomy weather of Park Forest Illinois, and head west to the heavy rains and gloomy weather of Seattle Washington. After arriving in Seattle, they met up with vocalist Chris Cornell, who at the time was playing drums for a number of small bands. When Yamamoto, Thayil, and Cornell got together, they discussed their mutual admiration for punk bands such as The Stooges, and the hard rock of Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. They eventually formed their own band, and soon found that Chris wasn't able to sing and drum convincingly, so the search for a drummer was on. They briefly hooked up with local drummer Scott Sundquist, but had their eye on Skinyard drummer Matt Cameron. The guys tried to get Matt to join their band, but since Skinyard was doing fairly well at the time, Matt was hesitant. Eventually Matt jumped ship and completed Soundgarden's lineup. After playing numerous shows around town, the opportunity came up to record a few songs for a compilation album. Three songs (Heretic, Tears To Forget, and All Your Lies) ended up on the compilation album Deep Six. By 1987, Soundgarden was signed to Sub Pop Records and released the EP Screaming Life. Sub Pop also released a limited edition promotional single (Hunted Down/Nothing To Say) that has become a collector's item worth up to $100. Less than a year later, the band released the EP Fopp, which was combined with Screaming Life and released as a full length album in 1990. By the time Screaming Life and Fopp were released, Soundgarden had built a large fan base in the Seattle area, and word was spreading that a new sound was emerging out of the Pacific Northwest. Major labels began sniffing around and expressing interest, but Soundgarden decided that a smaller label was better suited for their needs, and they signed with California based SST Records. In the fall of 1988, the band released Ultramega OK, their first full length album. They toured the U.S. and Europe, and received their first Grammy nomination. As the critical acclaim and good reviews mounted, the guys decided to sign with A & M records, and in September of 1989, Louder Than Love was released. This was the last album to feature Yamamoto, who left the band due to the mounting pressures of touring and the increasing publicity. In need of a bassist, the group picked up Jason Everman, who had previously spent about five minutes in Nirvana as a second guitarist. They toured extensively in support of Louder Than Love, including a package tour with Faith No More and Voivod. An earlier show was filmed for a home video release, titled Louder Than Live. This tape displayed the band's incendiary live performance, and included a medley of Spinal Tap's Big Bottom and Cheech & Chong's Earache My Eye. A & M also released a promotional CD called Louder Than Live that featured a few other songs not on the video. Things weren't working out with Everman however, and shortly after the tour was completed, he left the band. The search was on for another bass player, and soon thereafter the guys hooked up with local bassist Ben Shepherd, who was a friend of Kim's. As their first musical effort together, the guys decided to release a single on Sub Pop: Room A Thousand Years Wide/HIV Baby, which was released as a freebie for members of Sub Pop's single of the month club. With only 5,000 copies printed, this record has become a collector's item worth upwards of 50 dollars. Then in April of 1990 came the tragic and untimely death of Chris' former roommate and mother love bone singer Andy Wood. As a way of working through his frustration and grief, Chris wrote a couple of songs in tribute to Andy. He enlisted the aid of Matt Cameron and former Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament to co-write more songs, and along with Mike McCready of the newly formed Pearl Jam, they entered the studio in the winter of 1990 to record the album Temple Of The Dog. Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam's then new singer, also joined them lending additional vocals for three songs on the album. In addition to his contribution to Temple of the Dog, Matt Cameron could also be heard drumming on an album called Ankey Low Day, by the Tone Dogs, a group featuring avant-garde jazz saxophonist Amy Denio. In the spring of 1991, Soundgarden entered the studio with producer terry date to work on their third full length album. In September of that year, Badmotorfinger was released, and the band finally began to receive the radio airplay and MTV support that had eluded them before. In support of the album, Soundgarden began a grueling tour schedule. Starting in late 1991, the band hit the road with Guns n' Roses covering parts of the U.S. and Canada, then they took the opening slot on Skid Row's U.S. tour. After completing those dates, they headed over to Europe to begin a headlining tour with Corrosion Of Conformity as their opening act. In April, they returned to the States to continue a headlining tour with Monster Magnet and Swervedriver. A month later they were back in Europe, opening for Guns n' Roses again, then it was back home to America to begin Lollapalooza II in July. Finally, in August of 1992, after nearly one year of constant touring, Soundgarden returned to Seattle for a well deserved rest. The rest didn't last long however, as Soundgarden undertook several projects, as a band and individually. The first of these to hit the public was the movie Singles, which came out in the early fall of 1992. The soundtrack featured one song by Soundgarden and one by Chris in a solo performance, and the band also had a scene in the film, where in a toe-curling display of acting ability, they played a band performing at a club. In early 1993 Ben and Matt got together with some friends of theirs, dubbed themselves Hater, and recorded ten songs that were released on A & M records. Two sold out shows at Seattle's Paramount Theater were filmed during the Badmotorfinger tour and released in early 1993 as Motorvision, Soundgarden's second home video release. Chris wrote a couple of songs which were recorded by Alice Cooper. Soundgarden also contributed songs to a couple of worthy causes. These were the No Alternative and Alternative NRG compilation albums. No Alternative benefited AIDS research, and Alternative NRG was a Greenpeace benefit record. The band entered the studio midway through 1993 to record Superunknown, and briefly hit the road in the fall opening for Neil Young, where they tried out some of the new material on the fans. With the album completed but not yet released, Soundgarden once again hit the road. January and February of 1994 saw the guys playing their first ever shows in Australia and Japan. They returned to the States midway through February, and on March 8th, Superunknown was unleashed. Hordes of drooling Soundgarden fanatics filled the stores and snatched up copies of the new album, which debuted on the Billboard charts at #1. The guys celebrated by popping air sickness pills and hopping on a plane to Europe, where they began a two month tour. Back to the States in April, they set off on the first leg of their North American tour. Tad and Eleven were brought along to open the show, with the Reverend Horton Heat and You Am I opening on the second leg. Midway through the Canadian portion of the second leg of the tour, Chris began to experience vocal problems. The band was forced to cancel upcoming plans for another European tour due to doctor's orders for Chris to rest his voice. So the band was forced to take a break for a few months as Chris refrained from singing and worked on a full recovery. During this time Soundgarden won their first MTV video music award for best heavy metal/hard rock video for Black Hole Sun. During the winter months of 1994/1995, they wrote and rehearsed new material, and included one of the songs - Blind Dogs, on the Basketball Diaries soundtrack. Another song - Kyle Petty (Son Of Richard), appears on a compilation album that benefits Seattle's Home Alive organization. In March they each dressed up nice and went to the Grammy awards, where they won two of the four categories they were nominated in, making their mothers very proud. During the spring and summer of 1995, the guys entered the world of internet surfers, computer nerds, and cyber-punks, where they helped in the design and development of their own world wide web site and CD-plus project. The CD-plus contains 40 minutes of new Soundgarden "Space Jam" material, along with enough cool stuff to keep even the most cynical human being entertained for months. Ben and Matt got hater together again, played a few shows, and recorded a new song that is included on a compilation CD called Hempilation. To cap off the summer, the band flew to Europe to make up the shows they missed the previous year due to Chris' throat problems. After three weeks of playing outdoor shows and festivals, Soundgarden returned to the States, where they all took long naps. Oh yeah, and begun recording a new album. On May 21 1996 there in all it's shining glory was a new Soundgarden album to shove in your ears. On that day, Down On The Upside was released with 16 brand new songs. Since then a couple of videos were made, a couple of singles have been released, Lollapalooza, Europe (including gig in Prague), and the US winter tours have all begun then ended and Soundgarden went to Australia in early 1997. On their way back to the States, the guys stopped off in Hawaii to play two shows, work on their body surfing and eat lots of poi.
And on April 9th 1997 Soundgarden announced that they quit playing as a band and start solo careers.