SST was started in 1980 by Greg Ginn as an outlet for distributing the recordings of his band, Black Flag. Based in Los Angeles, the record company soon became recognized as a guiding force in the newly emerging hardcore music scene. The label’s early releases—which focused more on the seven-inch, 45 r.p.m. and twelve-inch, 33 1/3 r.p.m. configurations than longplaying albums—consisted largely of talent from the southwestern part of the United States, including the Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, Overkill, the Meat Puppets, the Stains, Wurm, the Dicks, and the Subhumans.

The addition of St. Paul’s Husker Du to SST’s roster of artists in 1983—climaxed by the release of the critically acclaimed double album set, Zen Arcade (SST 027; 1984)—represented a quantum leap in prestige. Ambitious bands flocked to the label from around the country. Furthermore, the break-up of Black Flag in 1986 enabled Ginn to concentrate his energies on the development on new projects. New signings during the mid-1980s included St. Vitus, Das Damen, SWA, Angest, Gone, Bad Brains, and the Leaving Trains. At this time, a market strategy seems to have been implemented by company insiders. Bands hovering on the brink of big-time commercial success—most notably, Husker Du and the Meat Puppets—would move on to major labels while SST redoubled its efforts to locate (and sign) talented unknowns performing in hardcore venues nationwide.

SST continued to expand its roster in the late 1980s, releasing materials seminal bands such as Firehose (a more ambient offshoot of the Minutemen) and Sonic Youth, one of the most influential bands of the postpunk era. In the early 1990s, the label released recordings by Pacific grunge pioneers Soundgarden and the Screaming Trees. {Thompson. 2000.]

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