Soundgarden Return, But Will Spoonman Follow?

The news of Soundgarden's return has created a wave of excitement among rock fans everywhere, including here at MTV News. The group was always a little bit underrated, and though their success pre-dated the breakthroughs of Nirvana and Pearl Jam in 1991, they've always been perceived as a band who was slightly late to the party because their true crossover album didn't appear until early 1994. But when it hit, it hit big, as Superunknown saw the band morph into a monstrous rock combo versed in classic rock, metal, psychedelic twitches and jittery rhythmic experiments, all sweetened by a keen sense of melody and frontman Chris Cornell's massive pipes.

One of the most amazing details about Soundgarden's big mainstream crossover was the fact that the first single from Superunknown was a track called "Spoonman," a groovy jam with a swinging surf-metal riff and an actual spoon solo in the middle of it. The tune was a tribute to Artis the Spoonman, a Seattle street performer of whom Cornell was somewhat enamored. The song proved to be the band's first big mainstream radio hit and paved the way for "Black Hole Sun," the chart-destroying juggernaut that followed.

Artis the Spoonman, meanwhile, continues to perform in Seattle, usually around Pike Place Market with musical accompaniment from a dude named Jim Page. In addition to his work with Soundgarden, he has also worked with Frank Zappa, Phish and Aerosmith. Back in February of 1994 (just prior to the release of Superunknown), Soundgarden spoke to MTV News about the Spoonman, and Artis himself gave us a private performance. Just looking at what this guy does make our jaws hurt, which only makes it more badass.

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