Billy Corgan was nineteen years old when he left Chicago, Illinois, moving to St. Petersburg, Florida with his band The Marked. The Goth band disintegrated following a run of less than mediocre commercial success, and Corgan returned to Chicago. While working in a record store there, he met James Iha and they started writing imaginative and dark songs together that had a distinct tinge of The Cure and New Order about them.
Corgan met D'arcy Wretzky at a concert in 1988. Upon discovering Wretzky was a bass player, Corgan informed D'arcy that his outfit needed a bassist and Wretzky joined the band. The Smashing Pumpkins debuted on July 9, 1988, at the Polish bar Chicago 21, a performance involving just Corgan and Iha with a drum machine. After a show at the Avalon Nightclub when the band appeared as a trio, jazz drummer Jimmy Chamberlin joined the band due to a friend of Corgan's speaking of his drumming prowess. Chamberlin's jazz-style drumming lent a unique ring and solidity to the band lacking in other alternative rock outfits, and this was quickly noted in musical circles. In fact, Chamberlin knew little if anything of alternative rock, and this seemed to drive the band in an awesome new direction.
The band set off on their rock 'n' roll journey, launching a tour with legendary rockers Guns 'n' Roses. This might sound odd to those not familiar with the Pumpkins' earlier phase, but those who enjoy Pearl Jam tickets, for instance, are the very same who seek Smashing Pumpkins tickets. Credibility is eternal. At this time, inner problems began to surface, and Iha and Wretzky (who'd been romantically linked for a while) underwent an ill-tempered break-up. Chamberlin became addicted to narcotics and alcohol and Corgan became depressed; things seemed about to fall apart for the Smashing Pumpkins.
The emergence of grunge in the American mainstream in the form of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, meant the Smashing Pumpkins were suddenly perched on the brink of a goldmine. They had the talent and the originality to make it big in this blooming new musical genre. Their debut album Gish (1991) was followed by the 1993 album, Siamese Dream, which landed at No. 10 on the Billboard charts, selling over four million copies in the U.S. alone. Corgan dated Courtney Love, the band battled to keep Chamberlin off and away from drugs, and ran the gauntlet of a barrage of negative reviews from the alternative rock press and fellow musicians. In 1994, Virgin released the rare tracks compilation, Pisces Iscariot, which beat Siamese Dream on the Billboard charts, landing at the No. 4 spot. At this time a video was released entitled "Vieuphoria," featuring a mixture of concerts and behind-the-scenes footage. After headlining on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour and at the1995 Reading Festival, the band disappeared to create their next album, which proved to be a worldbeater.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was a double album containing twenty-eight tracks over two hours in length. The songs were arranged to symbolize the cycle of life and death. Mellon Collie was certified an amazing nine times platinum in the U.S. and enjoys the title of best-selling double album of that decade. It also received seven 1996 Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year. The Pumpkins had truly arrived.
The band were now involved in a number of unsavory incidents, as they went out and toured to support the fantastic new album. A fan was crushed to death in Dublin, and two months later in New York City, touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and Chamberlin both overdosed on heroin. Melvoin died, and Chamberlin was fired from the band, which continued to play the tour using subsititutes, a decision Corgan went on to admit was a bad one. After this, the Pumpkins began to make statements to the effect that music was "stale" and that electronica would become the only viable route for bands to follow in the future.
1998's Adore represented a significant change of style from the Pumpkins' previous guitar-based rock, veering into the much-fabled electronica, and more personnel rearrangements occurred during the release of the next album, Machina/The Machines of God. On December 2, 2000, The Smashing Pumpkins played a 4 hour-long farewell show at The Metro, the same Chicago club where their career began twelve years earlier. Since then, there have been reunions by Corgan and Chamberlin, and refusals to reunite from Iha. The band has played some shows since then with new members, released the album Zeitgeist in 2007, and embarked on a massive Smashing Pumpkins tour in 2008 with Smashing Pumpkins tickets selling out for each date.
In the interim, the current Smashing Pumpkins lineup has been reduced to frontman Billy Corgan and guitarist Jeff Schroeder. Corgan confirmed this via Stereogum in an August 2014 interview, stating that Jeff Schroeder is his sole official bandmate at this time. In December 2009, the Smashing Pumpkins released new tracks off their eighth album, which is a unique ongoing studio album cycle called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. It will be comprised of 44 tracks total once it's complete. The album was released in eleven CD/EP box sets with accompanying art. In June 2012, the Pumpkins released Oceania, their ninth studio album and first installment of the Teargarden project, which featured the creative singles "The Celestials" and "Panopticon." The second and third chapters, Monuments to an Elegy and Day for Night will be released in 2015, completing the series. Teargarden by Kaleidyscope has received mostly positive reviews so far, but there's only one way to find out if you dig their new music too -- buy Smashing Pumpkins tickets here to see this legendary alt-band live in concert!
Siamese Dream (1993)
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
Machina/The Machines of God (2000)
Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music (2000)
Teargarden by Kaleidyscope (2009–2014)
Monuments to an Elegy (2014)
Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. (2018)
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