This week's entry was an impromptu one, and obviously not under the best circumstances. On May 17th, Chris Cornell was found in his Detroit hotel room, post-triumphant-Fox-Theater show, without vital signs and with a band around his neck.
Soundgarden was formed in 1984 by then-drummer/vocalist Chris Cornell, bassist Hiro Yamamoto and guitarist Kim Thayil. The band named themselves after a wind-channeling pipe sculpture in Seattle titled A Sound Garden. Scott Sundquist joined in 1985 to allow Cornell to concentrate on vocals. In 1986, Sundquist left the band to spend time with his family and was replaced by ex-Skin Yard drummer Matt Cameron.
The band signed to Sub Pop, and the label released Hunted Down in 1987 as the band's first single. The band released the 'Screaming Life' EP in 1987 and the 'Fopp' EP in 1988. A combination of the two was issued as the Screaming Life/Fopp LP. They signed to SST Records in 1988 and released their full-length (and Grammy-nominated) debut, Ultramega OK. Louder Than Love followed in 1989, further honing their Zeppelin-meets-Sabbath-with-a-dash-of-Voivod sound.
Then came the Grunge Era, with Pearl Jam, Nirvana and others kicking the doors down and replacing hairspray and leather with plaid and Doc Martens. Although they were way more prog-metal, they were from Seattle, and fit in perfectly with their 1991 (with new bassist Ben Shepherd) album Badmotorfinger's sound balancing the tightrope that was, at the time, alt-rock and heavy metal.
Then in 1994 came the ultramega (see what I did there?) hit that was Superunknown. Five-times platinum, Grammy-nominated, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts... Soundgarden became one of the biggest bands in the world. On top of Spoonman and Black Hole Sun, 'The Day I Tried To Live', 'My Wave' and 'Fell On Black Days' became rock classics.
And not only do they have an educational name, they graced their presence on an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy!!
After 13 years together and 5 albums, the band acrimoniously broke up in 1997. The fifth album, Down On the Upside, had been released in 1996 and was a big part of the implosion, where the guys were at odds over the musical direction of the album and the band in general. Chris formed the supergroup Audioslave with everyone from Rage Against The Machine except for Zach DaRocha, while the other Soundgardeners took on various projects...
... until 2010, when the band got band together to jam, start recording, and adding a previously unreleased song to the (remember this?) Guitar Hero video game. 2011 saw them contribute a new and quite solid tune to the Avengers' movie soundtrack, and 2012 brought their first album in over 16 years, the like-we-never-left gem of an album, King Animal.
In 2015 they began putting together a new album, and close to half of the tracks had been completed by summer 2016.
They began to tour in 2017, with a late-fall album release in the works.
Which leaves us where we are right now.
R.I.P. Chris. You are deservedly in the (a deservedly-used word here) pantheon of truly great rock voices: Plant, Mercury, Springsteen, Joplin et al. But what made you truly unique is your ability to wail like a banshee and yet also sing like a troubadour. That is why you will never be forgotten.
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