Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17: The Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan - "1979," "Oceania" - is 46-years-old today.

William Patrick "Billy" Corgan, Jr. Corgan was born in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. He decided to start playing guitar when he went over to a friend's house and saw his friend's Flying V. Corgan gave his savings to his father, who bought him a used Les Paul knock-off. Corgan taught himself to play the instrument.

Corgan performed in a string of bands in high school and graduated as an honor student. Despite grant and scholarship offers from a number of schools, organ decided to pursue music full-time. He moved from Chicago to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1985 with his first major band, The Marked (so named for the conspicuous birthmarks of both Corgan and drummer Ron Roesing). Not finding success in St. Petersburg, the band dissolved. Upon his return to Chicago, Corgan had already devised his next project – a new wave band that would be called The Smashing Pumpkins.

Corgan met guitarist James Iha while working in a record store, and the two began recording demos. He met bassist D'arcy Wretzky after a local show, and soon after, the Smashing Pumpkins were formed. The trio began to play together at local clubs with only a drum machine for percussion.

The band recruited drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and played for the first time as a quartet on October 5, 1988. On the band's inaugural album in 1991, entitled Gish, the band fused diverse threads such as psychedelic rock and heavy metal into a distinctive sound. Gish did better than expected. The follow-up, Siamese Dream, released on Virgin Records, became a multi-platinum hit.

The band became known for internal drama during this period, with Corgan frequently characterized in the music press as a "control freak" due to rumors that Corgan played all the guitar and bass parts on Gish and Siamese Dream (a rumor that Corgan later confirmed as true). Despite this, the album was well-received by critics, and the songs "Today" and "Disarm" became smash hits.

The band's 1995 follow up effort, the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, was even more successful, spawning a string of hit singles. The album was nominated for seven Grammy awards that year and would eventually be certified nine times platinum in the U.S. The song "1979" was Corgan's biggest hit to date, reaching #1 on Billboard's modern rock and mainstream rock charts.


Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is the eighth album by The Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan began work on the concept album with new drummer Mike Byrne shortly after the departure of founding member Jimmy Chamberlin in early 2009, with the intention to recapture the band's "psychedelic roots." Teargarden by Kaleidyscope is a concept album inspired by the Tarot, and in Corgan's words, "a new kind of album [...] you can hear as it's being made."

The band released ten songs as free downloads through their official website and compiled eight of them in two box sets before opting to rework the project.

In 2011, the band, which now incluided Corgan, Byrne, guitarist Jeff Schroeder, and new bassist Nicole Fiorentino, recorded the full-length "album within an album," Oceania, which was released on June 19, 2012.


For more about Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins, visit their Website at -


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