Complete List Of Soundgarden Band Members

Soundgarden Band Members

Feature Photo: Daniel DeSlover / Shutterstock.com

Soundgarden, an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984, stands as one of the pioneering acts of the grunge movement that reshaped the musical landscape of the 1990s. The band was founded by vocalist Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Scott Sundquist initially joined as the drummer but was soon replaced by Matt Cameron, who would go on to become a defining force behind Soundgarden’s unique rhythmic complexity.

The early years of Soundgarden were characterized by a melding of punk ethos and heavy metal soundscapes, which eventually led to a unique style often described as grunge. The band released several EPs and their debut album, “Ultramega OK,” in 1988 under the indie label SST Records. The album gained critical attention and set the stage for their major-label debut.

By the time “Louder Than Love” was released in 1989, the band had undergone its first significant lineup change, with Hiro Yamamoto departing and Jason Everman briefly taking over before being replaced by Ben Shepherd. This period also marked their entry into the mainstream as they became one of the first grunge bands to sign with a major label, A&M Records. While “Louder Than Love” was not a commercial smash, it paved the way for the grunge movement to break into mainstream consciousness.

However, it was their 1991 album “Badmotorfinger” that propelled Soundgarden to stardom. Featuring hits like “Outshined” and “Rusty Cage,” the album coincided with the explosion of grunge, driven by the successes of other Seattle bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. “Badmotorfinger” earned the band a Grammy nomination and paved the way for their magnum opus, “Superunknown,” in 1994. The latter album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned several hits, including “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman,” both of which won Grammy Awards.

Following “Superunknown,” the band released “Down on the Upside” in 1996, exploring a softer sound and showcasing their versatility. However, internal tensions led to a hiatus in 1997. During the break, members pursued individual projects; most notably, Matt Cameron joined Pearl Jam, and Chris Cornell embarked on a solo career and later formed Audioslave with members of Rage Against the Machine.

Soundgarden reunited in 2010, embarking on a series of successful tours and releasing “King Animal” in 2012, their first album in over 15 years. Sadly, the journey came to an abrupt halt on May 18, 2017, when Chris Cornell passed away. His death marked the end of an era for Soundgarden, but the band’s influence persists.

SOUNDGARDEN CURRENT AND FORMER BAND MEMBERS

Kim Thayil

Kim Thayil, originally from Seattle, Washington, was one of the founding members of Soundgarden, forming the band in 1984 along with singer Chris Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Thayil was the band’s lead guitarist and was pivotal in shaping Soundgarden’s signature heavy and psychedelic sound. He contributed to all of the band’s studio albums, from their debut EP “Screaming Life” in 1987 to their final album, “King Animal,” released in 2012. Some of the popular songs that featured his intricate and unconventional guitar work include “Black Hole Sun,” “Spoonman,” and “Outshined.” Thayil was with Soundgarden until the band’s initial breakup in 1997 and rejoined them when they reunited in 2010. Outside of Soundgarden, Thayil has collaborated with other artists and bands but has largely been associated with his work in Soundgarden.

Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell was the founding member, lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of Soundgarden. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington,  Chris Cornell’s extraordinary vocal range became one of the defining features of the band. He was a part of all Soundgarden albums, from their initial EPs to their 2012 comeback album “King Animal.” As the primary songwriter for the band, he penned many of Soundgarden’s hit songs including “Black Hole Sun,” “Rusty Cage,” and “Fell on Black Days.” The band broke up in 1997, but Cornell was a driving force behind their reunion in 2010. Apart from his work with Soundgarden, Chris Cornell had a successful solo career, releasing several albums, and was also part of other projects like Audioslave and Temple of the Dog. Tragically, Chris Cornell passed away in 2017, marking an abrupt end to his rich musical career.

Hiro Yamamoto

Hiro Yamamoto was one of the original members of Soundgarden, forming the band in 1984 along with Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell. As the bassist, he was a significant contributor to the band’s early sound. Yamamoto played on Soundgarden’s initial EPs and their first two studio albums, “Ultramega OK” (1988) and “Louder Than Love” (1989). He left the band in 1989 to complete his master’s degree and later formed the band Truly. Although he didn’t return to Soundgarden, his early contributions remain an integral part of the band’s history.

Scott Sundquist

Scott Sundquist briefly served as Soundgarden’s drummer, joining the band in 1985. He played on Soundgarden’s first demo recordings but left in 1986 to focus on his family. His tenure with the band was short-lived, but he was part of the formation stages of Soundgarden’s music.

Matt Cameron

Matt Cameron joined Soundgarden in 1986, replacing Scott Sundquist, and became a stable and long-standing member of the band. Born in San Diego, California, Cameron was instrumental in defining the band’s complex, polyrhythmic drum patterns. He played on most of Soundgarden’s albums, including breakthrough records like “Badmotorfinger” (1991) and “Superunknown” (1994). When Soundgarden disbanded in 1997, Cameron joined Pearl Jam and has been their drummer ever since. He rejoined Soundgarden when they reunited in 2010 and remained with them until Chris Cornell’s death in 2017.

Jason Everman

Jason Everman briefly played bass for Soundgarden in 1989 following the departure of Hiro Yamamoto. He participated in the band’s tour for their second album “Louder Than Love” but did not play on any studio recordings. Everman left Soundgarden after less than a year and later played for several other bands, including a brief stint with Nirvana.

Ben Shepherd

Ben Shepherd replaced Jason Everman as Soundgarden’s bassist in 1990. Hailing from Okinawa, Japan, Shepherd played a crucial role in the band’s evolving sound. He contributed to albums like “Badmotorfinger,” “Superunknown,” and “Down on the Upside,” often taking on songwriting duties as well. Some of the popular songs he composed for Soundgarden include “Face Pollution” and “Head Down.” Shepherd remained with the band until its initial breakup in 1997 and rejoined during the 2010 reunion, staying with the band until Cornell’s death in 2017. Outside Soundgarden, Shepherd has been involved in several other musical projects, contributing to the richness of his career.

Complete List Of Soundgarden Band Members article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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