Over the ages, many musicians have either lost their careers or lives due to drug addiction. It could seem that music and drugs go hand in hand. Many factors contribute to this relationship between musicians and drugs. One of the factors could be the pressure to remain at the top of the game. Also, addiction comes as a result of the celebrity status that comes with a lot of pride to some artists. The members of the Smashing Pumpkins were not immune to this vice. Some of its members fell susceptible to drug addiction which took a toll on the group’s career tremendously.
Their penetration into the musical mainstream was in 1993 when they released their second album, Siamese Dream. The group had sales of up to 20 million albums within the US alone. They had taken over the spot and were among the most successful bands the 90s had had. But this wouldn’t last forever; all came crumbling down with the reduced record sales, internal fights, and drugs.
The history of The Smashing Pumpkins joining the music industry in the 80s and thriving before fighting with heroin leading to the major breakup in 2000 clearly illustrates the challenge of drugs.
The Smashing Pumpkins, led by Billy Corgan, have tried a couple of times to bury the hatchet and reunite. In 2007, Corgan and Chamberlin met guitarist Jeff Schroeder and they played until 2009 when Chamberlin left. The Smashing Pumpkins later made a comeback with a major reunion that has made headlines from May 2016. This is an indication that despite the breakup, the wrangles, and the drugs there is always a second chance and Billy Corgan has fought hard enough to see the band together again.
Billy Corgan’s experience with Drugs
Billy Corgan appears to be the first and maybe the only member of the Smashing Pumpkins band who has seen it transform from inception, dealt with drug challenges, internal fighting and of course, observed the band separate. Having fought with heroin and cocaine for a long time in his family, Corgan accepted to face his past instead of running away from it. Growing up was not easy for him. His father who was also in the music industry majoring in playing the guitar for R & B was struggling with heroin addiction. Corgan was only 5 and his mother could not cope with the lifestyle and abandoned him before his father also departed him. Several years later when his father was arrested in possession of heroin Bill bailed him out and took him to rehab.
Corgan believes that the band could have been successful if they remained united together. He is seen as one person who always strived to keep the band united and was not willing to let go of any member. He is quoted saying that he was the founder and that the band was in his blood. There have been many instances that the band has strived to come together and make a comeback in the music industry. While other members have tried to revive the band others have distant themselves or even gone ahead to join other bands.
Jimmy Chamberlin Fight
Jimmy Chamberlin’s journey into the music industry, fame, and drugs dates back to 1992. The team required a good drummer and Jonathan made the perfect fit. The fame grew bigger after the band released the song Siamese Dream and this is where Jimmy got attracted to heroin. His addiction got worse when his father died. The situation moved from being a fun addiction as was seen at the time to clearly a frustrating experience for the band. Jimmy dealt with addiction for a long time and went to rehab in an inpatient facility. In 1996, Chamberlin was found in possession of cocaine and was arrested. The band then announced that they had fired him.
Death of Jonathan Melvoin
In fact, at around the same time, another band member Jonathan Melvoin died in the hotel they were spending. Medical examination revealed that Jonathan had died because of an overdose of heroin. While many speculations were made on whether Jonathan was into drugs before joining the band, most people especially family members blamed Jimmy for introducing him to drugs. Some even mentioned that he did not do enough work to revive his friend since they had developed a strong bond. This created a major setback for The Smashing Pumpkins. However, it was later revealed that Jimmy was actually into drugs and he deliberately isolated himself from the rest by staying in a different hotel.
Another victim was D’arcy Wretzky, the bassist, who was held in very high regard by Billy Corgan having had a significant contribution in the band’s first five albums. Her musical vocation was, however, marked by ups and downs. After the 1995 album ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,’ Corgan said that Wretzky was descending into drugs. In 1996, she decided to part ways with the band to pursue a career in acting and since the band had begun recording ‘Machina/The Machines of God,’ she only featured in few bass parts. Immediately she left the band; she was apprehended after being found in possession of crack cocaine.
Were it not for their indulgence in drug and substance abuse, The Smashing Pumpkins could have been among the greatest bands in Alternative Rock. Their momentum at the onset of their vocation cannot be easily matched by any other band in history. However, it is worthwhile to note that this is a problem that affects many musicians and, by large, personalities in the show business. With this knowledge, anybody joining or aspiring to join this industry can learn ways on how to overcome the negativities and the positive aspects that come with celebrity status.