A Soundgarden Timeline | Evolvor.com

A Soundgarden Timeline

The so-called “godfathers of grunge”, were a musical powerhouse that punched in you the face and left you blooded on the ground begging for more. If Cornell’s vocals didn’t smack you around, then it was Kim Thayil’s guitar or Matt Cameron’s drums or Ben Shepherd’s bass. It seems like their career was all too short, but as we shall see, it was fairly longer than most of their peers. It would have been interesting to hear what these guys could have done next, but hey, shit happens.


I now present the Soundgarden timeline:

1981: Kim Thayil and Hiro Yamamoto move from Illinois to Washington and eventually Seattle.

1982-1984: Hiro Yamamoto (bass), Matt Dentino (guitar) and Chris Cornell (drums, vocals) are in a cover band called the Shemps. Kim Thayil would later replace Hiro on bass and the band began to cross paths with Matt Cameron (who was in Skin Yard) and Ben Shepherd (who was in March of Crimes).

1984: The Shemps were finished and Cornell moves in with Hiro. The duo invite Thayil to play guitar after jamming around for a bit. The trio dub themselves Soundgarden, after a sculpture in Seattle that makes howling sounds during the wind. Cornell sings and drums at this time and eventually the band opens up for groups like The Melvins.

1985: Soundgarden hires Scott Sundquist to replace Cornell on drums, this way Cornell can focus on singing.

1986: The band contributes “Heretic” and “All Your Lies” to the Deep Six compilation album. The album also featured tracks from Skin Yard (remember Matt Cameron’s band), The Melvins, Green River (which featured future Pearl Jam members Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and future Mudhoney singer Mark Arm), and Malfunkshun (who was fronted by Mother Love Bone singer Andy Wood).

1987: Scott Sundquist leaves the band and is replaced by Matt Cameron. The band records their first Sub Pop EP Screaming Life.

1988: Soundgarden releases their second Sub Pop EP, Fopp. They are are also courted by A&M, but stay indie and sign with SST and release their first full length, and Grammy nominated, album Ultramega OK.

Soundgarden “Flower”

1989: The band signs with A&M and releases Louder Than Love, which includes the tracks “Loud Love”, “Flower”, “Get On The Snake” and the awesome “Big Dumb Sex”. The band also releases two EPs, Flower and Loud Love, oddly Flower was released by SST well after the band signed with A&M. Hiro Yamamoto leaves Soundgarden and goes back to school, he is replaced by one time Nirvana member Jason Everman. The band tours the U.S. and Europe with Voivod and Faith No More. The band also records their shows and calls the tape Louder Than Live.

Soundgarden “Big Dumb Sex” from Louder Than Live

1990: The Sub Pop EP’s are packaged together as one cd known as Screaming Life/Fopp. Tragically, Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood dies of an heroin overdose, he was a friend to the members of Soundgarden and at one point Cornell’s roommate. In response, the band hires bassist Ben Shepherd because he was one of kind, like Andy Wood. They record “Room A Thousand Years Wide” and “HIV Baby” and the tracks are released for Sub Pop’s single of the month for members only.

1991: Cornell and Cameron team up with Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder for Temple of the Dog, a tribute album to Andy Wood. Later in the year, the band releases Badmotorfinger which included the hits “Rusty Cage”, “Outshined” and “Jesus Christ Pose”, as well as the hard hitting “Slaves & Bulldozers”. The band begins a year long tour that includes opening up for Guns ‘N’ Roses in parts of the U.S. and Canada.

“Room A Thousand Years Wide” from the Motorvision home video

1992: Soundgarden open up for Skid Row during the early part of the year. They then headline a European tour w/ Monster Magnet and by May they are back in Europe w/ G’N’R. They spend the summer at Lollapalooza, which also included Pearl Jam, which meant a Temple of the Dog set as well! The band also reissues Badmotorfinger with second disc Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas, commonly known as SOMMS. The band is also featured in Cameron Crowe’s fantastic movie Singles. The band is seen performing “Birth Ritual” (which is also on the soundtrack) and also during the movie a snippet of the “Spoonman” demo is used. The movie also featured Cornell’s acting debut, with a brief cameo, and he also made his solo debut with the amazing song “Seasons”, which is also on the soundtrack.

1993: The band slows down a bit for a much needed rest. Individually, the members work on various projects. The band also contributes the tracks “Show Me”, on the No Alternative benefit album for AIDs, and “New Damage” (w/ Queen guitarist Brian May) for the Greenpeace benefit album Alternative NRG. They also begin recording a little album called Superunknown.

1994: Soundgarden begin touring before Superunknown is released. In January they begin the tour with their first ever shows in Australia and Japan. The band also heads to Europe before the album was released. On March 8 Superunknown hit the shelves, which contained the hits “Black Hole Sun”, “Fell On Black Days”, “Spoonman” and “The Day I Tried To Live”, as well as the great tracks “My Wave” and “Like Suicide”. The band goes on a U.S. tour from May-August with openers that included Tad, Eleven, The Reverend Horton Heat and You Am I. They ended the tour in Seattle with the Screaming Trees, The Reverend Horton Heat and You Am I. In August the band had to cancel some shows in Europe after Cornell was required to rest his pipes. Soundgarden win the “Best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Video” for “Black Hole Sun” at the MTV VMA’s.

Soundgarden “The Day I Tried To Live”

1995: Soundgarden tour Europe in August and September. In November the band released a multimedia cd-rom entitled Alive in the Superunknown, with an audio only disc as well called Songs From The Superunknown, that included an awesome acoustic version of “Like Suicide”.

1996: Down on the Upside debuts at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 on May 21, with the hits “Pretty Noose”, “Blow Up The Outside World” and “Burden In My Hand”, in addition to the mandolin swinging “Ty Cobb” and, one of my favorites, “Zero Chance”. Soundgarden begin their tour with an intimate performance at the Showbox in Seattle. They go on to headline Lollapalooza, becoming the first band to headline the main stage twice. The band then head to Europe and return to the States, but these shows had problems due to Cornell’s voice. They end their tour in Seattle on December 18.

Soundgarden “Blow Up The Outside World”

1997: Soundgarden head to Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. They announce that they are done touring and want to start recording a new album by the fall. On April 9 Soundgarden shocks us all by announcing that they are disbanding. On November 9 A&M releases A-Sides, a greatest hits compliation.

If you need a good Soundgarden fix, check out the Unofficial Soundgarden page.

Eric Hebert

Founder and Lead Digital Strategist

2 Responses

  1. Eric Hebert says:


    For someone who considers themselves a huge fan, there’s so much I didn’t know.

    Many peeps don’t realize how long the band was around for.

    I’m glad they broke up – it makes their time here all the more special.

  2. Albert Costill says:

    Yeah, even when I was writing the article the information that I found was amazing. I thought I knew a lot about Soundgarden, but I was wrong.

    It was probably good that they broke up, but sometimes its fun to ponder what else they could have done. They were such a talented band.