Soundgarden are one of the seminal Seattle bands who define the grunge sound which had a major influence on rock music in the 1990s, achieving a massive international breakthrough with their 1994 album Superunknown. They started out as covers band The Shemps, performed around Seattle through the 1980s and the line-up included Chris Cornell on vocals and drums and Hiro Yamamoto on bass. When The Shemps broke up, Cornell and Yamamoto linked up with guitarist Kim Thayil to form Soundgarden, taking their name from a wind-channelling pipe sculpture. Local Seattle label Sub-Pop signed them and released their first single Hunted Down in 1987 and they evolved a hardcore style that mixed hard rock with a stripped-down mentality built on discordant guitars shared with other Seattle bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains (and which was dubbed "grunge"). They released debut album Ultramega OK in 1988, subsequently signing with major label A&M, which - at the same time Nirvana made it big with Nevermind - led to mainstream acceptance with the 1991 album Badmotorfinger. Then came the band's biggest success Superunknown but, with Cornell wanting to abandon grunge and disappointing sales of their 1996 album Down On The Upside, Soundgarden split. In 2010 they announced a reunion with their first dates for 13 years.

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