ith the addition of Matt Cameron (drums), Chris Cornell (guitar), Kim Thayil (guitar) and Hiro Yamamoto (bass), Soundgarden would become one of the first acts to record on the newly founded 'Sub Pop' label with the release of their Hunted Down single in the summer of 1987, the two EPs Screaming Life and Fopp followed shortly later. They took their name from an environmental statue named "The Soundgarden", located at 7600 Sand Point Way in Seattle, Washington (the sculpture makes noises when the wind blows past it). Thayil was partly responsible for the label's founding by bringing together partners Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman in the first place.
It would be for another reasonably new label, 'S.S.T.' (a company founded by the members of punk act Black Flag and named after an old electronics company 'Solid State Tuners'), that Soundgarden would record their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988. The album paved the way for their punk attitude mixed with snail paced riffing, bass crunching and psychedelic sounds. The album helped to make Soundgarden one of the founding fathers of the grunge movement, even if they were somewhat more Metallic than the traditional grunge fare of Nirvana or Mudhoney.
Soundgarden's next, Louder Than Love (1989), Soundgarden's debut for 'A&M', was Grammy nominated. As great as the album's prospects were, however, it still failed to make a dent beyond the Pop underground and a few daring metal fans. Yamamoto parted ways with the group at this point, and was replaced with John Everman (ex-Nirvana) shortly after the album was released. Ben Shepherd, as it turns out, would soon replace him. Cornell and Cameron got together with Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament at sidebar to form Temple Of The Dog,and released an eponymous debut in 1992 to critical acclaim that sold over 2 million copies.
Badmotorfinger (1991) broke Soundgarden into the mainstream; it made top 40 in the US and UK charts, sold over 3 million copies and got them rotation on the coveted MTV. It was widely considered a more cerebral and tighter recording than their past by featuring their views on religion, politics and the world in general. It broke Soundgarden into the "grunge" movement that was bursting out of Seattle at the time. A supporting spot on the Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion tour later that year helped them gain crossover appeal with the Metal crowd.
Once again side projects were in the works, this time with Matt Cameron and Ben Shapherd joining forces with Monster Magnet guitar man John McBain to release a self-titled release under the Hater moniker.
Spoonman, a song named after a legendary street busker in Seattle back in 1974 named Artis, and a top 20 charting song to boot, would be the big hit on their fourth effort Superunknown in 1994. The album itself sailed up the charts, reaching 4 in England and a 1 in the US The album simply dripped of retro-rock and psychedelic moods and got Soundgarden a Grammy award for the track Black Hole Sun, not to mention a tour with The Smashing Pumpkins. The follow-up, Down On The Upside (1996), fared less well,however; charting at 7 & 2 in the UK and US respectively, but due to its altered sound it failed to impress as well as its predecessor over-all; their psychedelic, dark and closed feeling gone and replaced with a simpler and stripped down grunge similar to Ministry's Jesus Built My Hotrod and others popular of the day. But grunge was on the way out. The album, as it happens, would prove to be their last as a sudden divorce would ensue on April 9th of 1997.
After the split, Chris Cornell pursued his own solo endeavors with Euphoria Morning (1999), an album that got him a 18 US/31 UK Matt Cameron and John McBain would reunite for the Wellwater Conspiracy to record Declaration Of Conformity (1998), Brotherhood Of Electric: Operational Directives (1999), and the self-titled Wellwater Conspiracy (2000).
In 2010 Soundgarden reunited; Soundgarden's sixth album, King Animal (2012) followed soon after. Telephantasm: A Retrospective, a compilation album, was packaged with initial shipments of the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock video game and released in September 2010, previously; one week before the CD's availability in stores on October 5, 2010.
On November 15, 2013, drummer Matt Cameron announced he would not be touring with Soundgarden in 2014, due to prior commitments promoting Pearl Jam's album Lightning Bolt. On March 27, 2014, former Pearl Jam drummer Matt Chamberlain replaced him for live shows in South America and Europe.
The 3CD compilation box set, Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path, came on November 24, 2014. The set would feature a collection of rarities, live tracks, and unreleased material spanning the group's history. It includes previously released songs, such as Live to Rise, Black Rain, Birth Ritual, among others. It also boasted a newly recorded rendition of a song from the band's pre-Matt Cameron 1985 demo, The Storm, now simply titled "Storm".
On May 17, 2017, Cornell was found dead in his hotel room at the MGM Grand in Detroit after performing at a show the night. The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office determined the cause of death as suicide by hanging. Cornell's widow Vicky questioned whether it was the drug Ativan, which Cornell was taking that might have led to him taking his own life saying, "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life".