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Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

Rock group

For the Record

Functional Dysfunctionals

Intense Lyrics, Innovative Guitar Work

Indie or Not Indie?

Downward Spiral and Absolution

Played Final Concert

Selected discography

Sources

Critics heard endless lists of influences in the songs of the Chicago-based Smashing PumpkinsBlack Sabbath, Queen, Boston, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowieand use countless hardedged adjectives to describe the Smashing Pumpkins sound. Murray Englehart in RIP observed, The collage that makes up the Pumpkinsranging from a Husker Du guitar onslaught to a sometime Hendrix-like fret dynamism and flashes of dreamy ambiencealso features slabs of Sabbath, the band Henry Rollins once called the ultimate lonely mans music. And lead singer-songwriter Billy Corgan, whose lonely guy persona has been much explored by the media, admitted to Englehart that he did indeed listen to Black Sabbath at a young age. Leaving only five studio albums for critics to ponder, the group disbanded in 2000.

While many suspected that Corgan was the bandand no one denies that he was the major contributor of time, art, and effortthe other members did their share to bring the alternative rock n roll to full, impassioned life. Corgan got the band together in 1988 after warming up with a band in Florida called the Marked, so named because of Corgans strawberry-colored birthmark on his arm and a similar mark on another band

For the Record

Members include Melissa Auf Dcr Maur (ex-member of Hole; group member, 1998-2000). bass; Jimmy Chamberlin (born June 10, 1964, in Joliet, IL; fired in 1996; rejoined group, c. 1999). drums; Billy Corgan (born March 17, 1967, in Glendale Heights, IL; married Chris Fabian [an artist]), vocals, guitar, mellotron; Dennis Flemion (ex-member of Frogs; touring member, 1996), keyboards; James Iha (born March 6, 1968, in Elk Grove, IL), guitar; Jonathan Melvoin (born December 6, 1961, in Los Angeles, CA; died July 12, 1996; wife, Laura; son Jacob August; touring member), keyboard; Matt Walker (ex-member of Filter; touring member 1996-97), drums; DArcy Wretzky (born May 1, 1968, in South Haven, MI; left group, 1998), bass, vocals.

Corgan started the short-lived band, the Marked, at age 18; Smashing Pumpkins formed in Chicago, 1988; released debut 7-inch, I Am One/Not Worth Asking, Limited Potential, 1989; released full-length debut, Gish, 1991; released highly successful album Siamese Dream, 1993; headlined Lollapalooza tour, released Pisces Iscariot, 1994; released Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, 1995; released Adore, 1998; released Machina: The Machines of God, and Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, performed farewell concert, 2000.

Awards: Grammy Awards, Best Hard Rock Performance for Bullet with Butterfly Wings, 1996, and The End is the Beginning is the End, 1997.

Addresses: Website Smashing Pumpkins Official Website: http://www.smashingpumpkins.com.

members face. He and DArcy Wretzky, who usually goes without her last name, met in an argument in a parking lot outside of a concert; when he discovered she played the bass, they joined forces and brought in guitarist James Iha, who was a student at Chicagos Loyola University, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

Functional Dysfunctionals

Though many critics have spent their energy describing Corgan, the personalitiessocial and musicalof the other Smashing Pumpkins members were strong enough to make their way into the press as well. Jim Greer offered this summary for Spin: DArcy (thumbnail sketch: likes to wear sunglasses and act cool), Iha (shy, friendly, big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Chamberlin (madman). Alluding to various personal problems, including the end of DArcys and Ihas long-term relationship, Chamberlins drug problems, and Corgans emotional problems, DArcy told Michael Azerrad of Rolling Stone, Its really a dysfunctional band.

But their performances suggested otherwise. Michael C. Harris described one Chicago event for Rolling Stone at which the band worked the crowd into a moshing, body-surfing frenzy, guitarists Corgan and James Iha urging each other on to spastic heights while the seemingly unmoved DArcy worked a bass groove deep enough to maintain the dueling guitarists. And drummer Jimmy Chamberlin forged an unwavering rhythm bed augmented by original, jazzed-up fills.

However, Billy Corgans philosophies, personal and musical, gave the band its shape and purpose. His angst pervaded their full-length debut album, Gish, and follow-up, Siamese Dream, which was named for Corgans longing for the perfect companionship of a Siamese twin attached at the wrist. He describes his childhood as terrible. After his parents divorce, Corgan lived first with his great-grandmother, then his father, who was a musician often on the road, and his stepmother. He has always felt himself to be an outcast, he told Requests Bill Wyman. People consistently make me feel that theres something wrong with me. That Im an incorrect person. Even today, the music community has not exactly opened its arms up to my ideology. But these profound insecurities have in no way come between Corgan and his commitment to musical progress. To the contrary, he clarified, The simplest thing I can say about it is that if Id had a decent childhood, I definitely wouldnt do this. Theres definitely something about that hole in my life that pushed me to need acceptance from a thousand people at a time.

Intense Lyrics, Innovative Guitar Work

While acceptance may be forefront in Corgans thoughts, he did not cater to his audience. He challenged himself, his band, and his audience with consistent conviction and hard work. His lyrics were deeply intimate and revealing. These are very personal songs. I sing them because they mean something to me, and in that sense, I think they will signify things to other people, he told S. L. Duff of RIP. In addition, a frightening amount of time was spent in search of the right guitar sounds, Corgan told Brett Milano in Pulse! Everybodys already heard every guitar sound ever, so we wanted to come up with something as new as it could possibly be when youre still using guitars, foot pedals and an amp.

For Gish, Corgan explained to Mike Mettler of Guitar Player, I wanted the rideout to sound like World War I airplanes divebombing around your head. The bands ambitious goals can be summed up in Corgans typically aggressive and simultaneously understated stance: Ive always thought we could do something thats basically stupid, which is playing rock music, but to take it to a level thats something of a higher art form, as daunting a task as that might be, and to do it with some intelligence and class.

Indie or Not Indie?

Smashing Pumpkins have inspired awe from critics since the release of Gish. Chris Mundy in Rolling Stone wrote that Gish smacks of the opening of an alternative universe. But the Smashing Pumpkinsmembers have noted with a certain bitternesswere not received too warmly by the independent label music world: they were too successful at selling albums and booking shows. They simply did not suffer enough. For Billy Corgan, however, an indie label was the only way to go with their first album, even though they were actively pursued by major labels. The goal was to retain creative license, Corgan told Mundy. What the band does is so specific that we couldnt dilute it in any way. We couldnt put ourselves in the position where we were powerless.

Christopher John Farley of Time noted that the bands 1993 album Siamese Dream one of their two most successful with Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness relies heavily on Hendrix-era musical scores, but manages to transcend most of them and create a lush sound the Pumpkins call their own. In Stereo Review, one writer exclaimed, Bombastic riffingnewly minted from the archives of Hendrix, Zeppelin, and othersgets reconfigured by this Chicago quartet into jagged shards and clumsy arpeggios. Theyve taken the beauty of heavy metals obsessive hooking and messed with it.

The bands next release, Pisces Iscariot, was a collection of B-sides and songs never meant to come out, Corgan noted in the LPs liner notes, as quoted in Entertainment Weekly. Pointing out the element of humor in the eclectic blend of tunes on Pisces Iscariot, which includes a remake of Fleetwood Macs Landslide, Jim Greer of Spin found that Great Pumpkin Corgan rarely disappoints. The album was meant to serve to tide the fans over until their next release.

Their next release was Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, a double-disc set that debuted at number one on the charts and hit it even bigger than Siamese Dream. In fact, it went certified platinum over eight times. The Pumpkins were at the height of their career, popular and respected musicians; the poster-children for the alternative scene, which was in its heyday.

Downward Spiral and Absolution

In 1996, the Pumpkins touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, and Jimmy Chamberlin overdosed on heroin together in the hotel room they were sharing. Melvoin did not survive the incident and the Smashing Pumpkins booted Chamberlin from the group, fed up with his wayward ways, especially with their reputation as a drug-free group. They stated that his long-term problems with alcohol and drugs, coupled with his arrest on possession charges, has nearly destroyed everything we stand for, according to People. They all took two months off to recover and to look for a new drummer. They replaced Melvoin with Dennis Flemion and Chamberlin with Matt Walker.

When the band returned to the scene, they released the LP Adore. It received bad reviews and sold poorly. Soon after, DArcy left the band under shady circumstances and was replaced by Melissa Auf Der Maur. And as the band continued to shuffle, Chamberlin returned to drums. With sales plummeting and membership in flux, the band released Machina: The Machines of God, and Corgan announced his intention to dissolve the band before the year was out. The band launched its farewell tour in 2000.

Machina: The Machines of God was a major disappointment when released. It started as an experiment; the Smashing Pumpkins members were each to take on a fictional character in a fictional band, the Machines of God. But the band didnt entirely follow through. On top of that, the album received critical disclaim, and sales faltered. Whereas the Pumpkins were at one time what David Fricke of Rolling Stone.com called the most consistent hit makers of the alternative rock explosion, their sales had dropped dramatically with each album after Mellon Collie. It was like watching your kid flunking out of school after getting straight As for ten years, Chamberlin said to Fricke.

Played Final Concert

In September of 2000, the Pumpkins released Machina II: Friends and Enemies of Modern Music as a free, online-only sequel to Machina. When they couldnt get the album released the conventional way, they rebelliously turned to MP3 downloads and made the album available to fans. As they finished handing out their Machina II, Smashing Pumpkins had made six studio albums that had sold more than 22 million copies.

In December of 2000, the Smashing Pumpkins played their final concert at Chicagos Metro, a four-and-a- half hour, 36-song extravaganza that featured friends, family, clowns and prayers, according to MTV.coms Gil Kaufman. The Cabaret Metro was the club where the Smashing Pumpkins made their debut in 1988. The concert was meant to thank musical inspirations and the band was characteristically creative to the last; there were song rearrangements made less than 24 hours before the show. Corgan closed the show with their last words, Ladies and gentlemen, there is nowhere left to go. God bless the Smashing Pumpkins, as quoted by Kaufman.

Eventually, Corgan put together a new band, Zwan, which features Chamberlin on drums. Iha and Auf Der Maur had also put together a group of supermusicians, dubbed the Virgins. Auf Der Maur works on solo work as well and has a Canadian band called Tinker. Iha also does solo work and is involved in a joint effort to open a recording studio in New York.

Change, experimentation, and irreverence are some of the qualities that made the Smashing Pumpkins one of the most admired alternative bands even while they burst out from that rubric. As Kevin Kerslake, who filmed their video for Cherub Rock, told Deborah Russell in Billboard, I think of angels when I hear the Smashing Pumpkins music. And the bands many fans would agree that their music does seem transcendent, even now.

Selected discography

Gish, Caroline, 1991.

Lull (EP), Caroline, 1991.

(Contributor) Singles (soundtrack), Epic, 1992.

Siamese Dream, Virgin, 1993.

Pisces Iscariot, Virgin, 1994.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Virgin, 1995.

(Contributor) Batman & Robin (soundtrack), Warner Bros., 1996.

Adore, Virgin, 1998.

Machina: The Machines of God, Virgin, 2000.

Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, Constantinople, 2000.

Greatest Hits, Virgin, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, August 7, 1993; August 21, 1993; September 25, 1993.

Details, December 1993.

Detroit Free Press, December 3, 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, August 6, 1993; September 20, 1993; October 7, 1994.

Guitar Player, March 1992; December 1993; September 1994; January 1996.

Interview, February 1996.

Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1993.

Musician, September 1993; July 1994.

People, July 29, 1996.

Pulse!, September 1993.

Request, September 1993; November 1993.

RIP, May 1993; August 1994.

Rolling Stone, August 8, 1991; September 16, 1993; September 30, 1993; October 14, 1993; December 23, 1993; April 21, 1994.

Spin, December 1991; August 1993; November 1993; January 1994; February 1994; November 1994.

Stereo Review, December 1993.

Time, August 16, 1993; January 3, 1994.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (February 5, 2002).

Grammy.com, http://www.grammy.com (February 5, 2002).

MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com (February 5, 2002).

RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (February 5, 2002).

Additional information for this profile was obtained from a Virgin Records press release, 1993.

Diane Moroff

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"Smashing Pumpkins." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Smashing Pumpkins." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/smashing-pumpkins-0

Smashing Pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

Rock band

Functional Dysfunctionals

Intense Lyrics, Innovative Guitar Work

Indie or Not Indie?

Selected discography

Sources

Critics hear endless lists of influences in the songs of the Chicago-based Smashing PumpkinsBlack Sabbath, Queen, Boston, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowieand use countless hard-edged adjectives to describe the Smashing Pumpkins sound. Murray Englehart in RIP observed, The collage that makes up the Pumpkinsranging from a Hüsker Düguitar onslaught to a sometime Hendrix-like fret dynamism and flashes of dreamy ambiencealso features slabs of Sabbath, the band Henry Rollins once called the ultimate lonely mans music. And lead singer-songwriter Billy Corgan, whose lonely guy persona has been much explored by the media, admitted to Englehart that he did indeed listen to Sabbath at a young age.

While many suspect that Corgan is the bandand no one denies that he is the major contributor of time, art, and effortthe other members do their share to bring this alternative rock and roll to full, impassioned life. Corgan got the band together in 1988 after warming up with a band in Florida called the Markedso named because of Corgans strawberry-colored birthmark on his arm and a similar mark on another band members face. He and DArcy Wretzky, who usually goes without her last name, met in an argument in a parking lot outside of a concert; when he discovered she played the bass, they joined forces and brought in guitarist James lha, who was a student at Chicagos Loyola University, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

Functional Dysfunctionals

Though many critics spend their energy describing Corgan, the personalitiessocial and musicalof the other Smashing Pumpkins members has made its way into the press. Jim Greer offered this summary for Spin: DArcy (thumbnail sketch: likes to wear sunglasses and act cool), lha (shy, friendly, big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Chamberlin (madman). Alluding to various personal problems, including the end of DArcy and lhas long-term relationship, Chamberlins drug problems, and Corgans emotional problems, DArcy told Michael Azerrad of Rolling Stone, Its really a dysfunctional band.

But their performances suggest otherwise. Michael C. Harris described one Chicago event for Rolling Stone at which the band worked the crowd into a moshing, body-surfing frenzy, guitarists Corgan and James lha urging each other on to spastic heights while the seemingly unmoved DArcy worked a bass groove deep enough to maintain the dueling guitarists. And drummer Jimmy Chamberlin forged an unwavering rhythm bed augmented by original, jazzed-up fills.

For the Record

Members include Jimmy Chamberlin, drums; Billy Corgan (born in Glendale Heights, IL; father a musician, mother a flight attendant; married Chris Fabian [an artist]), vocals, guitar, mellotron; James Iha, guitar; and DArcy Wretzky, bass, vocals.

Corgan started the short-lived band the Marked in Florida at age 18; Smashing Pumpkins formed in Chicago, 1988; released debut 7-inch, I Am One/Not Worth Asking, Limited Potential, 1989; released full-length debut, Gish, 1991; headlined Lollapalooza tour, summer, 1994.

Awards: Nominated for a Grammy Award.

Addresses: Record company Virgin Records, 338 North Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210; or 1790 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

However, Billy Corgans philosophies, personal and musical, give the band its shape and purpose. His angst pervades their full-length debut album, Gish, and follow-up, Siamese Dream, which was named for Corgans longing for the perfect companionship of a siamese twin attached at the wrist. He describes his childhood as terrible. After his parents divorce, Corgan lived first with his great-grandmother, then his father, who was a musician often on the road, and his stepmother. He has always felt himself to be an outcast, he told Requests Bill Wyman. People consistently make me feel that theres something wrong with me. That Im an incorrect person. Even today, the music community has not exactly opened its arms up to my ideology.

But these profound insecurities have in no way come between Corgan and his commitment to musical progress. To the contrary, he clarified, The simplest thing I can say about it is that if Id had a decent childhood, I definitely wouldnt do this. Theres definitely something about that hole in my life that pushed me to need acceptance from a thousand people at a time.

Intense Lyrics, Innovative Guitar Work

While acceptance may be forefront in Corgans thoughts, he does not cater to his audience. He challenges himself, his band, and his audience with consistent conviction and hard work. His lyrics are deeply intimate and revealing. These are very personal songs. I sing them because they mean something to me, and in that sense, I think they will signify things to other people, he told S. L. Duff of RIP. In addition, a frightening amount of time was spent in search of the right guitar sounds, Corgan told Brett Milano in Pulse! Everybodys already heard every guitar sound ever, so we wanted to come up with something as new as it could possibly be when youre still using guitars, foot pedals and an amp.

For Gish, Corgan explained to Mike Mettler of Guitar Player, I wanted the rideout to sound like World War I airplanes divebombing around your head. The bands ambitious goals can be summed up in Corgans typically aggressive and simultaneously understated stance: Ive always thought we could do something thats basically stupid, which is playing rock music, but to take it to a level thats something of a higher art form, as daunting a task as that might be, and to do it with some intelligence and class. DArcy made clear how prevalent a philosophy that is for the band when she told Azerrad, Perfection is not an easy thing to do. Were trying to do something thats great and beautiful and will last, that is a piece of art.

Indie or Not Indie?

Smashing Pumpkins have inspired awe from critics since the release of Gish. Chris Mundy in Rolling Stone wrote that Gish smacks of the opening of an alternative universe. But Smashing Pumpkins, its members have noted with a certain bitterness, were not received too warmly by the independent label music world: they were too successful at selling albums and booking shows; they simply did not suffer enough. For Billy Corgan, however, an indie label was the only way to go with their first album, even though they were actively pursued by major labels. The goal was to retain creative license, Corgan told Mundy. What the band does is so specific that we couldnt dilute it in any way. We couldnt put ourselves in the position where we were powerless.

Smashing Pumpkins adamant stance has paid off. Lorraine Ali of Rolling Stone wrote, Even the most chaotic pileups of distortion are painstakingly orchestrated. Entertainment Weeklys David Browne remarked that the bands 1993 release, Siamese Dream, represents the great lost link between alternative, pop, and metal. Mark J. Petracca, also of Entertainment Weekly, elaborated, This psychedelic pop masterpiece is one of the most important rock records of the year. [They] probe emotional depths while pummeling you with grungy guitar riffs, then rescue you with a delicate acoustic-guitar arpeggio. And Billboard spotlighted the album as a stupendous, brilliantly produced album that combines brute force with strong melodic sense.

Christopher John Farley of Time noted that the bands 1993 album Siamese Dream relies heavily on Hendrixera musical scores, but manages to transcend most of them and create a lush sound the Pumpkins call their own. In Stereo Review, one writer exclaimed, Bombastic riffingnewly minted from the archives of Hendrix, Zeppelin, and othersgets reconfigured by this Chicago quartet into jagged shards and clumsy arpeggios. Theyve taken the beauty of heavy metals obsessive hooking and messed with it. Praising Siamese Dream, the writer concluded that the album kicks you in the solar plexus and leaves you gasping for more.

These slackers with vision, as Entertainment Weeklys David Browne called Smashing Pumpkins, released a third album in late 1994 that was quite a departure for the group. Pisces Iscariot is a collection of B-sides and songs never meant to come out, Corgan noted in the LPs liner notes, as quoted in Entertainment Weekly. Its easy to see why these songs didnt make the cut for Siamese Dream or even Gish, commented Jim Greer in Spin. Pointing out the element of humor in the eclectic blend of tunes on Pisces Iscariot, which includes a remake of Fleetwood Macs Landslide, Greer found that Great Pumpkin Corgan rarely disappoints.

Change, experimentation, and irreverence are some of the qualities that have made the Smashing Pumpkins one of the most admired alternative bands even while they burst out from that rubric. As Kevin Kerslake, who filmed their video for Cherub Rock, told Deborah Russell in Billboard, I think of angels when I hear the Smashing Pumpkins music. And the bands many fans would agree that their music does seem transcendent.

Selected discography

I Am One/Not Worth Asking, Limited Potential, 1989.

Tristessa/La Dolly Vita, Sub Pop, 1990.

Gish, Caroline, 1991.

Lull (EP), Caroline, 1991.

Drown, Singles soundtrack, Epic, 1992.

Jackie Blue, 20 Explosive Hits of the 70s, Pravda, 1992.

Siamese Dream, Virgin, 1993.

Pisces Iscariot, Virgin, 1994.

Sources

Billboard, August 7, 1993; August 21, 1993; September 25, 1993.

Details, December 1993.

Detroit Free Press, December 3, 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, August 6, 1993; September 20, 1993; October 7, 1994.

Guitar Player, March 1992; December 1993; September 1994.

Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1993.

Musician, September 1993; July 1994.

Pulse!, September 1993.

Request, September 1993; November 1993.

RIP, May 1993; August 1994.

Rolling Stone, August 8, 1991; September 16, 1993; September 30, 1993; October 14, 1993; December 23, 1993; April 21, 1994.

Spin, December 1991; August 1993; November 1993; January 1994; February 1994; November 1994.

Stereo Review, December 1993.

Time, August 16, 1993; January 3, 1994.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from a Virgin Records press release, 1993.

Diane Moroff

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Smashing Pumpkins." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Smashing Pumpkins." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/smashing-pumpkins

"Smashing Pumpkins." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/smashing-pumpkins

Smashing Pumpkins

SMASHING PUMPKINS


Formed: 1988, Chicago, Illinois; Disbanded 2000

Members: Jimmy Chamberlin, drums (born Joliet, Illinois, 10 June 1964; fired in 1996, rejoined in 1999); Billy Corgan, guitar/vocals (born Glendale Heights, Illinois, 17 March 1967); James Iha, guitar (born Elk Grove, Illinois, 6 March 1968); Melissa Auf Der Maur, bass (joined 1998; born Montreal, Quebec, 17 March 1972)). Former members: Matt Walker, drums (touring member 19961997; born Chicago, Illinois); D'Arcy Wretzky, bass (born South Haven, Michigan, 1 May 1968; left group 1998).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)

Hit songs since 1990: "Cherub Rock," "Tonight Tonight," "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"


Like a rock and roll Icarus, Chicago's Smashing Pumpkins aimed high and flew daringly close to the sun during their decade-long ascent to the highest peaks of rock stardom. The brainchild of the restlessly creative singer/guitarist Billy Corgan, the group put Chicago on the rock and roll map in the early 1990s with a sound that paid homage to heavy metal, glam rock, folk, electronic music, and new wave. At the group's creative peak, albums such as the double-CD Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) took rock to dramatic new heights while spinning off such indelible alternative rock radio hits as "Tonight, Tonight" and "1979."


Origins

Billy Corgan, the son of a jazz guitarist, formed the Smashing Pumpkins in Chicago in 1988, playing at first with the guitarist James Iha as a duo with a drum machine. After a heated argument in a parking lot with D'Arcy Wretzky, Corgan asked the lithe bassist to join his group, rounded out by the drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. The band quickly won a following in their hometown with fierce live shows during which Wretzky would take her stoic stance alongside a wildly flailing Corgan, an impassive Iha, and the thundering, powerful Chamberlin.


Major-Label Breakthrough

After releasing the 1990 single "I Am One" on Chicago's Limited Potential label and "Tristessa" on Seattle's Sub Pop Records, the band signed with Virgin Records, though they released their debut album, Gish (1991), on the smaller subsidiary Caroline to retain their underground, "indie" credibility.

Gish is a template for the angst-ridden grunge rock sound that came to define early 1990s rock and roll. Produced by Butch Vigwho soon thereafter produced Nirvana's breakthrough album, Nevermind Gish is a blend of screaming psychedelic rock and mellow, folk-inflected songs, many of which rise and fall through several dynamic passages. Featuring Corgan's high, nasal voice, furious guitar solos and confessional lyrics, tracks such as "I Am One" and "Siva" are closer to the grandiose arena rock of the 1970s than Nirvana's more intense, shorter, punk-inspired songs.

In a sign of their persistent personal tensions, the former lovers Iha and Wretzky underwent a nasty breakup while touring to support Gish; Chamberlin began a dangerous addiction to drugs and alcohol at the same time as Corgan slipped into a dark depression. With the various personal clouds hanging over them, the group again entered the studio with Vig in 1992 to record their official major-label debut, Siamese Dream (1993). Corgan threw himself into the work, writing all but two of the songs alone and reportedly playing nearly every guitar and bass line as well, which helped fuel the impression that the band's other members were mere observers of Corgan's creative vision.

The album, which debuted on the Billboard charts at number ten, is a triumph of dark emotion and soaring rock and roll, with Corgan's lyrical torment and Jimi Hendrix-like flights of guitar fancy gelling into a lush, fully realized sound that is at once pompous and touchingly insecure. Corgan's image of a tortured, wounded angel comes to fruition on songs such as the driving, explosive hit single "Cherub Rock" and the majestic rock ballad "Today."

While many of the songs revel in chaotic swirls of feedback and barrages of guitar, they are also clearly carefully crafted, over-the-top pop morsels meant to appeal to radio listeners and take listeners on a proscribed journey. "Cherub Rock," "Disarm," and "Today" all became radio anthems.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) is the realization of Corgan's wildest musical fantasies. A two-disc set of songs that runs the gamut from string and piano-laden symphonic instrumentals ("Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness") to searing, scorched-earth heavy metal ("Jellybelly," "X.Y.U."), the album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and was hailed as a masterpiece by many critics and fans. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" won the 1996 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.



With production from Flood and Alan Moulder, both known for their work with the electronic rock band Nine Inch Nails, and a rich, orchestral sound, the album features bits of synthesizer-laden electronic songs that presaged the band's next musical transformation. The album sold 4 million copies in the United States and spawned such hits as the ballad "Tonight, Tonight," the fiery hard-rock song "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and the bouncy "1979."


Drugs, Death, and Dissolution

The good times were short-lived, however. On July 12, 1996, the band's touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, was found dead of a heroin overdose in the hotel room in which he had shared the drug with Chamberlin. The drummer survived but was fired from the group and arrested for heroin possession. The band went on a two-month hiatus and reemerged in late August.

The first Pumpkins album recorded without Chamberlin, Adore (1998), produced by Corgan, was the band's first musical misstep. A dark series of down-tempo acoustic tracks, layered with electronic drums, electric guitars, and keyboards, the album was dismissed by most critics and the band's fans. Songs such as "Perfect" reveal the influence of such new wave pop groups as New Order, with a syncopated drum track and a chiming guitar sound. The rebuke was especially difficult for Corgan, who had written some of his most emotionally naked lyrics to date for the album, such as the hushed piano ballad dedicated to his mother, "For Martha," which features the lyrics "If you have to go don't say goodbye / If you have to go don't you cry." In November1999 the former Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur replaced Wretzky, who quit the group after the release of Adore. Chamberlin returned to the group in mid-1999. To coincide with what Corgan announced would be the group's final tour, the band released the enigmatic rock opera MACHINA: The Machines of God (2000), which features a convoluted back story in which each band member plays the part of a fictional character in the band the Machines of God, after the fashion of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust. A mixture of the majestic rock of Mellon Collie and the electronic keyboards and new wave influences of Adore, the album did not reach a wide audience.

When Virgin refused to release a second collection of songs, MACHINA II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, the group offered it for free download on the Internet in September 2000. On December 2, the Smashing Pumpkins played their final show at the Metro in Chicago, the site of their first club show in 1988. Corgan reemerged a year later with a new band, Zwan, featuring Chamberlin on drums.

The Smashing Pumpkins tried it all during their decade-long assault on the senses: progressive rock, heavy metal, folk, electronic pop, and experimental rock. Billy Corgan's creative vision for the group helped make the Pumpkins one of the most revered, successful, and unpredictable groups of the alternative-rock era.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Gish (Caroline, 1991); Lull (Caroline, 1991); Siamese Dream (Virgin, 1993); Pisces Iscariot (Virgin, 1994); Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (Virgin, 1995); The Aeroplane Flies High (Virgin, 1996); Adore (Virgin, 1998); MACHINA: The Machines of God (Virgin, 2000); MACHINA II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music (Constantinople, 2000); Greatest Hits (Virgin, 2001)

gil kaufman

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"Smashing Pumpkins." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Smashing Pumpkins." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/smashing-pumpkins

"Smashing Pumpkins." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/smashing-pumpkins