Billy Corgan

From SPCodex, The Smashing Pumpkins wiki
William Patrick Corgan
Corgan in 2010
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Patrick Corgan Jr.
Also known asBilly Corgan, WPC
Born (1967-03-17) March 17, 1967 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
ArtistsThe Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, Static-X, The Marked, Spirits in the Sky, Starchildren, Backwards Clock Society
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano, bass
Years active1985–present
WikipediaBilly Corgan

William Patrick Corgan (born March 17, 1967)[1] is the lead singer, primary songwriter, guitarist, and sole permanent member of The Smashing Pumpkins, in addition to being the owner and promoter of the National Wrestling Alliance. Formed by Corgan and guitarist James Iha in Chicago, Illinois, in 1988, the Smashing Pumpkins quickly gained steam with the addition of bassist D'arcy Wretzky and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Strong album sales and large-scale tours propelled the band's increasing fame in the 1990s until their break-up in 2000. Corgan started a new band called Zwan, and after their demise, he released a solo album, TheFutureEmbrace, in 2005 and a collection of poetry, Blinking with Fists, before setting his sights on reforming The Smashing Pumpkins.

The new version of The Smashing Pumpkins, consisting of Corgan and a revolving lineup, has released and toured new albums extensively since 2007. In October 2017, he released his first solo album in over a decade, Ogilala.[2] His latest album, Cotillions, was released on November 22, 2019.

In 2011, Corgan founded Resistance Pro Wrestling. He later joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in 2015, becoming its president in August 2016. After leaving TNA in November 2016, he purchased the NWA in October 2017.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

1967–1987: Childhood and formative years[edit | edit source]

William Patrick Corgan, Jr. was born at Columbus Hospital in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on March 17, 1967 as the oldest son of William Corgan Sr., a blues/rock guitarist, and Martha Louise Maes Corgan Lutz. He was raised Catholic, and is of Irish descent.[3][4] His parents had one more son, Ricky, before divorcing in 1970.[5] His father was remarried to a flight attendant, and Corgan and his brother went to live with them in Glendale Heights, Illinois.[6] Corgan alleges that during this time his stepmother was physically and emotionally abusive to him.[7] Corgan developed a protective bond with his younger paternal half-brother, who had special needs as a child.[8] When Corgan's father and stepmother separated, all three boys would live alone with their stepmother, with both of Corgan's birth parents living separately within an hour's drive.[9]

Corgan discusses his childhood abuse and how fame surfaced the scars.

Corgan, who grew much faster than his fellow students, was a strong athlete in elementary school.[10] In addition to being a member of his Marquardt Middle School baseball team, he collected baseball cards (amassing over 10,000) and listened to every Chicago Cubs game.[10] However, by the time he began attending Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream, Illinois, he had become only an average athlete. He decided to start playing guitar when he went over to a friend's house and saw his friend's Flying V.[10] Corgan gave his savings to his father, who bought him a used Les Paul knock-off.[10] Corgan Sr. steered his son stylistically, encouraging him to listen to Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix, but offered little other support, and the younger Corgan taught himself to play the instrument.[9]

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, and a tuition fund left by his grandmother,[11] Corgan decided to pursue music full-time.[12] Not finding the Chicago music scene to his liking, 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; Corgan moved back to Chicago to live with his father.

Corgan performed with Wayne Static in Static's first band, Deep Blue Dream, in 1987/88.[13]

1988–2000: The Smashing Pumpkins[edit | edit source]

Upon his return to Chicago, Corgan had already devised his next project – a band that would be called The Smashing Pumpkins.[14] Corgan met guitarist James Iha while working in a record store, and the two began recording demos, which Corgan describes as "gloomy little goth-pop records."[14] He met bassist D'arcy Wretzky after a local show, arguing with her about a band that had just played, The Dan Reed Network. Soon after, the Smashing Pumpkins were formed.[15] The trio began to play together at local clubs with a drum machine for percussion. To secure a show at the Metro in Chicago, the band recruited drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, and played for the first time as a quartet on October 5, 1988.

Corgan in 1992

The addition of Chamberlin drove the band in a heavier direction almost immediately.[14] On the band's debut album, Gish (1991), the band integrated psychedelic rock and heavy metal into their sound. Gish fared better than expected, but the follow-up, Siamese Dream, released on Virgin Records in 1993, became a multi-platinum hit.

The band's 1995 follow-up effort, the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, was more successful, spawning a string of hit singles. According to Jon Pareles from The New York Times, Corgan wanted to "lose himself and find himself..." in this album.[16] The album was nominated for seven Grammy awards that year, and would eventually be certified ten times platinum in the United States. The song "1979" was Corgan's biggest hit to date, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's modern rock and mainstream rock charts. Their appearance on Saturday Night Live on November 11, 1995, to promote this material (their second appearance on the show overall) was also the television debut appearance of Corgan's shaved head, which he has maintained consistently since.[17]

On July 12, 1996, touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died in a Manhattan hotel room of a heroin overdose after he and Chamberlin used the drug together.[18] The Smashing Pumpkins made the decision to fire Chamberlin and continue as a trio.[19] This shakeup, coupled with Corgan going through a divorce and the death of his mother, influenced the somber mood of the band's next album, 1998's Adore.

Corgan in 1997

Chamberlin was reunited with the band in 1999. In 2000, they released Machina/The Machines of God, a concept album on which the band deliberately played to their public image. During the recording for Machina, Wretzky quit the band and was replaced for the upcoming tour by former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur. In 2000 the band announced they would break up at the end of the year, and soon after released Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music free over the Internet. The Smashing Pumpkins played their last show on December 2, 2000, at the Cabaret Metro.

2001–2005: Zwan and solo career[edit | edit source]

Following a brief stint touring with New Order in the summer,[20] Corgan reunited with Chamberlin to form the band Zwan with Corgan's old friend Matt Sweeney in late 2001.[21][22] According to Neil Strauss of New York Times, during his few live performances with the band, Corgan says "is still a work in progress."[23] The lineup was completed with guitarist David Pajo and bassist Paz Lenchantin. The quintet performed throughout 2002, and their debut album, Mary Star of the Sea, was released in early 2003 to generally positive reviews.[24] In the midst of their supporting tour for the album, mounting conflict between Corgan and Chamberlin, and the other band members led to the cancellation of the rest of the tour as the band entered an apparent hiatus, formally announcing a breakup in September 2003.[25][26][27][28]

On September 17, 2003, Billy presented his poetry at the Art Institute of Chicago's Rubloff Auditorium.[29] In late 2004, Corgan published Blinking with Fists, a book of poetry. The book debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list.[30] Around this time, he began posting autobiographical writings online under the title The Confessions of Billy Corgan.

Also in 2004, he began a solo music career, landing on an electronic/shoegaze/alternative rock sound for his first solo album, TheFutureEmbrace, co-produced and arranged by Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb. Corgan toured behind his solo album with a touring band that included Linda Strawberry, Brian Liesegang and Matt Walker in 2005. This tour was not as extensive as previous Smashing Pumpkins or Zwan tours.[31] Prior to recording TheFutureEmbrace, Corgan had recorded some 72 songs inspired by Chicago history for the largely acoustic ChicagoSongs project, which have yet to be released.[32]

2005–present: The Smashing Pumpkins revival[edit | edit source]

In 2005, Corgan took out a full-page ad in Chicago's two major newspapers (The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times) revealing his desire to re-form the Smashing Pumpkins.[32] Several days later, Jimmy Chamberlin accepted Corgan's offer for a reunion.[33]

On April 20, 2006, the band's official website confirmed that the group was indeed reuniting.[34] The re-formed Smashing Pumpkins went into studio for much of 2006 and early 2007, and performed its first show in seven years on May 22, 2007, with new members Ginger Pooley (bass) and Jeff Schroeder (guitar) replacing Wretzky and Iha. The new album, titled Zeitgeist, was released in the United States on July 10, 2007, and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Corgan and the rest of the Pumpkins toured extensively throughout 2007 and 2008, also releasing the EP American Gothic and the singles "G.L.O.W." and "Superchrist". Chamberlin left the band in March 2009, and Corgan elected to continue under the name.[35]

In summer 2009 Corgan formed the band Spirits in the Sky to play a tribute concert to the late Sky Saxon of the Seeds. He toured with the band, composed of ex-Catherine member and "Superchrist" producer Kerry Brown, the Electric Prunes bassist Mark Tulin, Strawberry Alarm Clock keyboardist Mark Weitz, frequent Corgan collaborator Linda Strawberry, flautist Kevin Dippold, "Superchrist" violinist Ysanne Spevack, saxist Justin Norman, new Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne, and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, playing covers and new Pumpkins material at several clubs in California.[36][37] At the end of the tour, Corgan, Byrne, Tulin, and Brown headed back to Chicago to begin work on the new Smashing Pumpkins album, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.[38] The lineup at the time which included new bassist Nicole Fiorentino toured through much of 2010, then spent 2011 recording the "album-within-an-album" Oceania and mounting tours of the United States and Europe. However, Byrne and Fiorentino would later leave the band in 2014.

In April Corgan announced a new solo record of "experimental" recordings he made in 2007, via the Smashing Pumpkins' website.[39] The album, which he titled AEGEA, was released exclusively on vinyl, with 250 copies being made. Most of those copies were sold online, and a few copies were sold at Madame ZuZu's teahouse in Chicago.[40] The album was released on May 15.[41]

On July 25, 2014, Corgan announced that the tapes from his "Siddhartha" show from February 28, 2014 were being transferred for sale, much in the vein of AEGEA. The set contains between 5 vinyl LPs.[42]

During the summer 2014, Corgan recorded The Smashing Pumpkins's tenth studio album, Monuments to an Elegy, with Tommy Lee and Jeff Schroeder. The album was released in early December 2014.[43]

In September 2015, Corgan started a blog of vintage photographs that he himself curated, and which he called "People and Their Cars." The website also included an email listing for the blog, titled "The Red Border Club." This list was to be used for information on upcoming People and Their Cars and "Hexestential" books and merchandise, along with access to additional images.[44][45]

On September 8, 2016, Corgan announced, in a Facebook live video, that he had recorded a new solo album with producer Rick Rubin, and it would consist of 12 or 13 tracks. He described work on the album as being near completion, though a release date was not given.[46]

On August 22, 2017, Corgan announced the solo album, giving its title as Ogilala.[47] Ogilala would feature Corgan and James Iha's first musical collaboration since Iha departed The Smashing Pumpkins in 2000.

On February 16, 2018, Corgan announced a reunion tour for The Smashing Pumpkins. The lineup consists of himself, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin, and Jeff Schroeder. This reunited lineup would release the single "Solara" on June 8, 2018 prior to heading out for the Shiny and Oh So Bright tour. By the end of the tour in September 2018, the band revealed they would be releasing the album Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. on November 16, 2018. This announcement came with the release of the single "Silvery Sometimes (Ghosts)" and its music video. Shortly before the album released, "Knights of Malta" was released as a third single via a secret video on YouTube accessible with a special link. The band supported the album with the short 30th Anniversary Series in early December.

On November 22, 2019, Corgan released his third solo album Cotillions, which he called "a labor of love." He also said, "This is absolutely an album from my heart."[48] It would go on to release in physical formats in January 2020. The album was supported by the summer 2019 tour in Europe and then the fall 2019 tour in the US.

In early 2020 Corgan confirmed that a new album by The Smashing Pumpkins was being made and that it would be produced by himself. On August 28, 2020 the lead single consisting of "Cyr" and "The Colour of Love" was released on streaming platforms and CYR was properly announced for a released on November 27, 2020. In the leadup to that date four more double singles were released, as well as a five-part animated series called In Ashes.

In October 2020, Corgan revealed that he intended to release another concept album to serve as a sequel to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Machina/The Machines of God. He had planned this idea out for several years, but waited until the band's reunion had settled in to act on it, and was delayed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic as well. The recording for this album would take nearly 2 years, with some of it happening during CYR and some after. On September 19, 2022 the album, ATUM: A Rock Opera in Three Acts was formally announced and its lead single, "Beguiled", was released on streaming the following day. Corgan also announced that he would be doing a weekly podcast entitled Thirty-Three that would discuss and showcase a song from the album every week until the album was released in full on April 21, 2023.

Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]

Resistance Pro Wrestling (2011–2014)[edit | edit source]

In 2011 Corgan formed a Chicago-based independent wrestling promotion called Resistance Pro.[49][50] Two years later, in 2013, he starred in a commercial for Walter E. Smithe Furniture, using the platform to promote his wrestling company.[51]

In March 2014 it was reported that Corgan was in discussions with American television channel AMC to develop an unscripted reality series about Resistance Pro.[52][53] The premise being a behind-the-scenes look at the promotion as Corgan "takes over creative direction for the independent wrestling company". The show was given the green light by AMC, under the working title of "Untitled Billy Corgan Wrestling Project," the same month.[54]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2015–2016)[edit | edit source]

In April 2015 Corgan was announced as the new Senior Producer of Creative and Talent Development for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where his role was to "develop characters and create story lines", which he has called "a dream come true".[55][56][57][58] In August 2016, Corgan took over as the promotion's new president.

In November 2016 Corgan had left TNA after disputes about not being paid on time, and subsequently, Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp and Impact Ventures, parent company of TNA Impact Wrestling, announced that Anthem has provided a credit facility to TNA to fund operations.[59] In 2016, he loaned money to Anthem Sports & Entertainment to fund TNA, and they promised to pay him back.[60]

On November 11, Corgan signed a settlement with Anthem – TNA and Anthem announced that they would be repaying TNA's loan from Corgan.

Newly appointed TNA/Impact Wrestling President Ed Nordholm credits the invention of and the vision behind the Matt Hardy Broken gimmick to Jeremy Borash, David Lagana and Billy Corgan. While Borash specifically had the most input into the gimmick of the three aside from Matt, the Hardy family deny that Borash was the sole person behind the gimmick.[61][62]

National Wrestling Alliance (2017–present)[edit | edit source]

On May 1, 2017, it was reported that Corgan had agreed to purchase the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), including its name, rights, trademarks and championship belts.[63] The purchase was confirmed by NWA president Bruce Tharpe later that same day.[64] Corgan's ownership took effect on October 1, 2017.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

For much of his life, Corgan has struggled with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, self-harm, obsessive-compulsive disorder and suicidal ideation.[65] He attributes these problems to the abuse he endured as a child in the hands of his stepmother as well as personal troubles and other issues.[65] He has since become an advocate for abuse support networks.[65]

Involvement with sports[edit | edit source]

Corgan is a keen supporter of the Chicago Cubs, and an occasional commentator on the team for WXRT DJ Lin Brehmer.[66] He has appeared at many Cubs games, occasionally throwing the ceremonial first pitch or singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". He is also a fan of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, and became personal friends with Dennis Rodman[67] and Chris Chelios.[68] He is an avid professional wrestling fan,[69] and appeared at an ECW event wielding an acoustic guitar as a weapon.[70] In 2008, the Pumpkins song "Doomsday Clock" was used by ROH for promotional videos.[71] On April 26, 2010, Corgan appeared on the SIRIUS Satellite Radio program Right After Wrestling with Arda Ocal to discuss his love for wrestling and the importance of unique theme songs for characters. On August 26, 2010, he took part in a storyline with AAA during a concert for MTV World Stage.[72] As far as other entertainment, Corgan once commented that all he watches on TV are "sports and the Three Stooges".[73] In March 2008, he was spotted in the crowd at the final day of the cricket test match between New Zealand and England.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Corgan accepts parts of Catholicism.[74] In 2009, he launched Everything From Here to There, an interfaith website that is devoted to "Mind-Body-Soul" integration. He mentions praying each morning and night to be able to see through Jesus Christ's eyes and feel with his heart.[75][76][77] A recent analysis of the symbolism of Corgan's lyrics considered the blend of beliefs he has cited in various interviews, which include various ideas about religion, multiple dimensions and psychic phenomena.[78]

Family and romantic relationships[edit | edit source]

Corgan's mother Martha died in December 1996. The song "For Martha", from Adore, was written in her memory. In the early 2000s Corgan named his label Martha's Music after her as well. A picture of Martha as a little girl sitting on a fake moon at Riverview Park is featured on the flipside of the Siamese Dream booklet.[79]

In 1993, Corgan married art conservator and artist Chris Fabian, his longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend. They were married at a small ceremony at his house in Wrigleyville.[80] A blurry Polaroid photo of her was used as the cover of the Pisces Iscariot compact disc. Corgan and Fabian separated in late 1995, and divorced in 1997. He refused to discuss the subject in interviews, saying, "There is not and will not be any public record on my marriage – that's one thing I have to draw lines around."[81] He nevertheless described the circumstances of his marriage in his online Confessions LiveJournal post in 2005.[82] In late 1995,[83] Corgan started dating Ukrainian photographer Yelena Yemchuk, who later contributed to several Smashing Pumpkins videos and album art. He continued to date Yemchuk until around 2004. According to Corgan, his breakup with her contributed to the themes of his 2005 solo release TheFutureEmbrace.[84] In 2005, Corgan dated musician Emilie Autumn for a number of months. The pair collaborated on multiple occasions during this time, with Autumn providing vocals and violin on his solo album and costume for a supporting music video.

In early 2006, Corgan moved in with Courtney Love and her daughter. According to Love, he had his own wing in her Hollywood Hills mansion.[85] They eventually parted ways following a fued,[86] but have reconciled and remain close friends today. Love joined him on stage at the 30th Anniversary show, praising Corgan as a "career maker" and that she loves him with all her soul.

In 2009, Corgan was linked with pop star Jessica Simpson.[87] He helped write "Who We Are", a song for her reality TV show. He started dating Australian singer Jessica Origliasso in 2010, and remained in a relationship with her until early June 2012. Origliasso blamed their split on their careers forcing them to spend too much time apart.[88][89]

He began dating Chloe Mendel in 2013. She gave birth to a son named Augustus Juppiter Corgan on November 16, 2015.[90] Their second child, a daughter named Philomena Clementine Corgan, was born on October 2, 2018.[91] On September 17, 2023, during the 30th anniversary Siamese Dream show at Madame ZuZu's, Corgan announced that he had married Mendel the day before, on September 16.

On December 19, 2021, Corgan's father, William Dale Corgan, died at age 74.[92]

Political beliefs[edit | edit source]

Following the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Corgan stated: "I'm very proud of my country right now for doing the right thing."[93] He has since said that he was disappointed with Obama's presidency, and that he lacks faith in both major political parties.[94] In 2009, he posted a transcript of a webcast by political activist Lyndon LaRouche to the official Smashing Pumpkins forum.[95][96] On March 10, 2009, Corgan testified in front of Congress on behalf of the musicFIRST Coalition. He spoke in favor of H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act, which gives musicians and artists their share of compensation when their music is played on radio stations.[97]

In 2018, Corgan called himself a "free-market libertarian capitalist". He added that he has not participated in an election since 1992, when he voted for Bill Clinton.[98]

Diet[edit | edit source]

Corgan adopted a pescetarian diet in 2013,[99] and stated in 2017 that he had begun following a vegan and gluten-free diet.[100] In 2012, he opened a tea house in Ravinia, Highland Park called Madame ZuZu's Tea House,[101] which closed in 2018 and reopened in downtown Highland Park in 2020.[102][103][104]

Collaborations[edit | edit source]

Mark Tulin—a middle-aged Caucasian male with long brown hair wearing a white shirt and black vest—plays bass guitar and smiles while Billy Corgan—a middle-aged Caucasian male wearing a dark green hat and red-and-black striped shirt with a brown jacket—plays electric guitar to his left.
Corgan (right) performing with Mark Tulin of The Electric Prunes at a benefit concert for Sky Saxon

In addition to performing, Corgan has produced albums for Ric Ocasek, The Frogs, and Catherine. He shared songwriting credit on several songs on Hole's 1998 album Celebrity Skin; the title track became Corgan's second No. 1 modern rock hit. He also acted as a consultant for Marilyn Manson during the recording of the album Mechanical Animals. He has produced three soundtracks for the movies Ransom (1996), Stigmata (1999) and Spun (2002) in which he appeared as a doctor.[105]

Corgan appeared at the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies. He inducted one of his biggest musical influences, Pink Floyd. He played acoustic guitar during the ceremony with Pink Floyd, when they performed their song "Wish You Were Here".

In particular, Corgan guided and collaborated with three bands in the 2000s—Breaking Benjamin (during sessions for 2004's We Are Not Alone), Taproot (for Blue-Sky Research, 2005), and Sky Saxon.[106]

In 2010, Corgan claimed co-writing credit (with ex-girlfriend Courtney Love) on at least two of the songs on Hole's final album Nobody's Daughter and tried to assert a right of approval before the album could be released. Corgan had helped develop the album during its early stages. The album was released without the writing controversy ever being litigated or publicly resolved.[107][108]

Corgan appeared as a guest vocalist on the song "Loki Cat" on Jimmy Chamberlin's first solo album, Life Begins Again, and Chamberlin played drums for the song "DIA" on Corgan's solo debut, where Robert Smith from The Cure teamed up with Corgan to do a cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody". In 2007, Corgan provided vocals on the Scorpions' song "The Cross", on their album Humanity: Hour I.[109] In 2010 Corgan featured on Ray Davies' album See My Friends on the album's closer, a mash-up of the Kinks songs "All Day and All of the Night" and "Destroyer". He also contributed his guitar work on "Did You Miss Me" by The Veronicas. Corgan has also collaborated with Tony Iommi, Blindside, David Bowie (singing "All the Young Dudes" with Bowie at Bowie's 50th birthday party), New Order and Marianne Faithfull. He also co-write the song "You'll Never Find Me" with Korn on their 2019 album, The Nothing, and in 2021 co-wrote "Dulcería" for AFI.

Musical style and influences[edit | edit source]

When asked in a 1994 Rolling Stone interview about his influences, Corgan replied:

Eight years old, I put on the Black Sabbath record, and my life is forever changed. It sounded so heavy. It rattled the bones. I wanted that feeling. With Bauhaus and The Cure, it was the ability to create a mood and an atmosphere. The air gets heavier. With Jimi Hendrix it was the ability to translate this other level of guitar. Cheap Trick – it was a vocal influence. Although Tom Petersson once told me that Rick Nielsen called us 'tuneless and nonmelodic.'[110]

Corgan wrote six articles for Guitar World in 1995, and his solos for "Cherub Rock" and "Geek U.S.A." were included on their list of the top guitar solos of all time. AllMusic said "Starla" "proves that Corgan was one of the finest (and most underrated) rock guitarists of the '90s",[111] while Rolling Stone called him and his Smashing Pumpkins bandmates "ruthless virtuosos". His solo for "Soma" was No. 24 on Rolling Stone's list of the top guitar solos.[112] He is a fan of Eddie Van Halen and interviewed him in 1996 for Guitar World. Other guitarists Corgan rates highly include Uli Jon Roth,[113] Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Leslie West, Dimebag Darrell and Robin Trower.[114]

His bass playing, which has featured on nearly every Smashing Pumpkins album, was influenced by post-punk figures like Peter Hook and Simon Gallup.[115]

Corgan has praised Radiohead, saying "if they're not the best band in the world, then they're one of the best". He is also a fan of Pantera and appeared briefly in their home video 3 Watch It Go.[116] Other favorites include Depeche Mode,[117] Siouxsie and the Banshees,[118] Rush, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Cure, Judas Priest, Metallica, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, Dinosaur Jr., Breaking Benjamin (for whom he co-wrote several songs of their album We Are Not Alone), My Bloody Valentine,[119] and Spiritualized.[120] Corgan stated in 1997 that upon hearing the U2 song "New Year's Day", at 16, "[U2] quickly became the most important band in the world to me."[121] Corgan particularly went out of his way to praise Rush in his interview for Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a documentary on the band, where he criticized mainstream reviewers for consciously marginalizing the band and their influence, and highlighted the fact that many of his musical peers were influenced by Rush.

He has listed his artistic influences as William S. Burroughs, Pablo Picasso, Jimi Hendrix, Jack Kerouac, and Philip K. Dick.[120][122]

Equipment[edit | edit source]

Corgan played (during the Gish-Siamese Dream era) a customized '57 Reissue Fender Stratocaster equipped with three Fender Lace Sensor pickups (the Lace Sensor Blue in the neck position, the Lace Sensor Silver in the middle position, and the Lace Sensor Red at the bridge position). It also has a five-position pickup selector switch which he installed himself. This battered Strat became his number one guitar by default. Eventually bat stickers were added to it, cementing its name as the Bat Strat.

During the Gish era he also played a '74 Strat that was sold to him by Jimmy Chamberlin for $275. Chamberlin didn't actually own it, however, rather he had borrowed it from a friend. The friend later said they were OK with it so long as Corgan was using it.[123] Shortly after Gish was completed, the guitar was stolen at a show in Detroit. Corgan offered $10,000 and then later $20,000 for its safe return. It wasn't until 27 years later that Corgan was finally reunited with this guitar.[124] The owner did not request any money, and had explained she bought it at a yard sale for $200 over a decade earlier. "I always felt the guitar would come back", Corgan told Rolling Stone, "and I know that sounds strange, but today didn’t surprise me. I always felt the guitar would come back when it was time."[123]

Corgan also used a wide variety of guitars on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. On "Where Boys Fear to Tread", Corgan used a Les Paul Junior Reissue, and on "Tonight Tonight" he used a '72 Gibson ES-335. He is also known to use a '74 Strat which has since been painted baby blue. That guitar was used on the recordings for "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and also "Muzzle", because the heavier wood gave it the basic Strat sound with a bit more bottom.

On May 24, 2007, at den Atelier, Luxembourg City

During the recording and tour of the album Zeitgeist, Corgan used a Schecter C-1 EX baritone, finished in black with Tony Iommi signature pickups.

Corgan also endorsed Reverend Guitars in his Zwan era, and continues to this day, most notably playing a Reverend Slingshot.

In 2008 Corgan released to the market his own Fender Stratocaster.[125] This new guitar was made to Corgan's exact specs to create his famous mid-'90s buzzsaw tone; the instrument features three DiMarzio pickups (two custom for this instrument), a string-through hardtail bridge and a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish.[126] When playing live, he uses both his signature Strats as well as two other Fender Strats, one in red with a white pick guard and one in silver-grey with a black pick guard; a Gibson Tony Iommi signature SG; and his Schecter C-1 (only used on the Zeitgeist song "United States").

A video called "Stompland" on the official Smashing Pumpkins YouTube channel is informative on Corgan's choice of effects pedals. In the video he reveals an extensive collection of pedals used throughout his career with the Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan's tone is often characterized by his use of fuzz pedals, particularly vintage versions of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff [127]

In 2016 Reverend Guitars released the BC-1 Billy Corgan signature guitar featuring Railhammer Billy Corgan signature pickups.[128]

The Reverend Billy Corgan Signature Terz was launched at the 2018 NAMM show—an electric version of a 19th-century instrument that is played as if the guitar is capoed at the third fret, and tuned G-g standard. Corgan often uses the capo at the third fret and asked for a higher-register guitar.[129]

Corgan is noted for having used Marshall and Diezel amps. He has also used modular preamps based on many different amps in conjunction with Mesa Boogie poweramps. The preamps were built custom built by Salvation Mods.[130]

In August 2017, Corgan sold a large collection of instruments and gear used throughout his career via music gear website Reverb.[131][132]

Corgan typically uses Dunlop branded pics, at 1mm thickness.[133]

Touring stats

Discography[edit | edit source]

Studio[edit | edit source]

TitleRelease datePeak chart positions
Martha's Music · Reprise
Martha's Music
Martha's Music · BMG
Martha's Music

Live[edit | edit source]

TitleRelease date
Madame ZuZu's
Neath The Darkest Eves
Martha's Music · Self-released
Martha's Music

Video releases[edit | edit source]

TitleRelease date
Coloma Productions · Self-released
Thirty Days
Martha's Music
Neath The Darkest Eves
Martha's Music · Self-released

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

TitleRelease dateComments
1996-11-26Half James Horner's motion picture score, the other half is Corgan with Matt Walker on drums.
1999-08-24Corgan wrote the original score with Mike Garson.
When a Man Falls in the Forest
Screen Media Films
2008-02-05Three previously unreleased songs.

Additional soundtrack work[edit | edit source]

Albums featured[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Prato, Greg. "Billy Corgan Biography". Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  2. "Review: William Patrick Corgan, 'Ogilala'".
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  5. Corgan, Billy (June 2, 2005). "The Confessions of Billy Corgan: The Toy Hammer". Livejournal. Archived from the original on December 22, 2009. William also fathered a half-brother, but Corgan has never found out who he is.
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External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]