Ongoing History of New Music Daily: Early Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 14.  But by the time he was 18, he was living in Florida and playing in a band that played what he calls “Hindu Goth” music.  They were called The Marked because both he and the drummer had big birthmarks. 

Billy moved back to Chicago in 1988 where he eventually hooked up with guitarist James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky whom they met outside a local club.

They played their first gig as the Smashing Pumpkins in 1989 using a drum machine instead of an actual drummer.  They found Jimmy Chamberlain playing in a 10-piece show band.  At first, Billy’s goal was to make his band as big and as famous as his favorite Chicago band, Material Issue, after the Gish album sold 400,000 copies and after Siamese Dream sold in the millions, he had to revise his goals.

Check out Tuesday’s piece on an aborted terrorist attack by a disgruntled Smiths fan. And don’t forget to check out my podcast The Ongoing History of New Music where you listen on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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