The Real Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Blue Oyster Cult and soundgarden

Let’s get this clear: Soundgarden weren’t just the harbingers of grunge – they also put the heavy in alt.rock and provided the blueprint for the stoner boom of the 1990s.

Loud as hell, uncommonly proficient and rarely less than provocative, Chris Cornell and co. changed the face of American post-punk. Kurt Cobain supposedly loved them so much that he followed them onto Sub Pop. And a year before Nirvana, Soundgarden were the first grunge band to sign to a major record label.

They weren’t short on confidence, either, Cornell thought they made better records than any other band on that scene. Plus they were that most unusual of propositions: a band that got better with time. And they quit while they were on top. Factor in their 2012 comeback and it’s a pretty perfect narrative arc.

Lzzy Hale on Blue Oyster Cult.

My first memory of hearing Blue Öyster Cult was when I was around nine years old. My dad was a huge fan and I guess he wanted to instil that in me. It worked. They had a pure grasp on how to create moments but still serving the song. I’m still striving for that as a songwriter.

They were quite strange, lyrically, and their creativeness always appealed. How can you not love a band who says: “Fuck it! Let’s write a song about Godzilla,” and then top it off with one of the most recognisable riffs ever?

But they had this brilliant mix of adventurous stoner rock smashed together with pop songs. They had guts and tunes. They were real underdogs, too – they never got the credit they deserved compared to Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. But honestly, the main thing is their songs make me feel good. Blue Öyster Cult are just quintessentially cool.

Classic Rock

Classic Rock is the online home of the world's best rock'n'roll magazine. We bring you breaking news, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes features, as well as unrivalled access to the biggest names in rock music; from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones, AC/DC to the Sex Pistols, and everything in between. Our expert writers bring you the very best on established and emerging bands plus everything you need to know about the mightiest new music releases.