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With Shepherd, the new line-up recorded Badmotorfinger in 1991.The album brought the band to a new level of commercial success, and Soundgarden found itself amidst the sudden popularity and attention given to the Seattle music scene.Soundgarden signed to Sub Pop, releasing the Screaming Life EP in 1987 and the Fopp EP in 1988 (a combination of the two was issued as Screaming Life/Fopp in 1990).Though the band was being courted by major labels, they signed to independent label SST Records in 1988 to release their debut album, Ultramega OK, for which they earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1990.The song "Jesus Christ Pose" and its music video was the subject of widespread controversy in 1991, and the video was removed from MTV's playlist."Rusty Cage" was later covered by Johnny Cash on his 1996 album, Unchained.
He was voted "Rock's Greatest Singer" by readers of Guitar World, Cornell suffered from depression and substance abuse problems earlier in his life.
In 1990, the band was joined by a new bassist, Ben Shepherd.
Along with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden quickly became one of the most successful bands from Seattle's emerging grunge scene in the early 1990s.
It also appeared on the fictional radio station Radio X in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and in the 32-bit version of Road Rash.
"Room a Thousand Years Wide" was released (along with the B-side "HIV Baby") as a 7" single through Sub Pop's Single of the Month club a full year before the release of Badmotorfinger, and later re-recorded for the album.