In the early 80s, Chris Cornell played in a cover band called The Shemps, which featured a bassist by the name of Hiro Yamamoto. Yamamoto soon left the band as was replaced by a high school friend of his from Chicago, named Kim Thayil. After some small tour dates, The Shemps disbanded and Cornell, Thayil, and Yamamoto began playing together; thus, Soundgarden was born. Aiming to accentuate Cornell's vocal talents, the band soon hired drummer Scott Sundquist, who was replaced by Matt Cameron in 1986. In 1988, Soundgarden released Ultramega OK, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance and led to high profile tour dates. Shortly after the release of Louder Than Love in 1989, Yamamoto left the band to go back to college and was replaced by Jason Everman, who was in turn replaced a few months later by Ben Shepherd.
With Shepherd, Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger in 1991, but it was overshadowed by the release of Nirvana's Nevermind. After extensive tour dates, grunge fans took notice upon the release of Superunknown in 1994. The album debuted at the very top of the charts and was supported by the hugely successful singles "Spoonman", "Black Hole Sun", and "Fell on Black Days". Cornell wanted to experiment more and 1996's Down on the Upside featured a more acoustic sound and more positive lyrics. Tensions increased on the following promotional tour dates, and in 1997, Soundgarden announced that they were breaking up. In 2010, thirteen years after disbanding, Soundgarden began playing small, exclusive, sometimes secret concert dates for diehard fans.
It wasn't until 2012 that Soundgarden released their first album in 16 years, King Animal. It was a triumphant return, with critics praising the album and the band's devout fans scrambling to purchase it. After so many years apart, Soundgarden dove back in head first, embarking on a massive tour and chomping at the bit to record another album. While some questioned whether the reunion was just a one-off stunt, Soundgarden is clearly here to stay.