Merging the mammoth riffs of Black Sabbath with the straightforward attack of the Ramones, guitarist Kim Thayil created his own original style that helped propel Soundgarden to the top of the Seattle rock heap in the '90s. Born on September 4, 1960, in Seattle, WA (but raised in Park Forest, Il), Thayil picked up the guitar in the mid-'70s for the same reason that countless other teenagers did at the time -- theatrical heavy metallists Kiss. Upon further investigation into the masked quartet, Thayil decided to check out their influences, namely the New York Dolls. Via the Dolls, Thayil discovered punk rock -- the Stooges, the Velvet Underground, MC5, the Ramones, and others. It was around this time that he bought a Guild S-100 guitar (similar to a Gibson SG in design), which would become his trademark instrument throughout his career. In high school, he formed his first band, Zippy and His Vast Army of Pinheads, which specialized in Sex Pistols and Devo covers.