Soundgarden is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Matt Cameron became the band’s full-time drummer in 1986, while bassist Ben Shepherd became a permanent replacement for Yamamoto in 1990. The band dissolved in 1997 and re-formed in 2010. Cornell remained in Soundgarden until his death in May 2017, putting the band’s future in doubt and leaving Thayil as the only remaining original member of the band.
Soundgarden was one of the seminal creators of grunge, a style of alternative rock that developed in Seattle, and was one of a number of grunge bands signed to the record label Sub Pop. Soundgarden was the first grunge band to sign to a major label (A&M Records in 1989), though the band did not achieve commercial success until they popularized the genre in the early 1990s with Seattle contemporaries Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains.
Soundgarden achieved its biggest success with the 1994 album Superunknown, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and yielded the Grammy Award-winning singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”. In 1997, the band broke up due to internal strife over its creative direction. After more than a decade of working on projects and other bands, Soundgarden reunited in 2010, and Republic Records released their sixth studio album, King Animal two years later.
As of 2012, Soundgarden sold more than 10.5 million records in the United States, and an estimated 22.5 million worldwide. VH1 ranked Soundgarden at number 14 in their special 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.