Smashing Pumpkins were an alternative rock band of the 1990s and early 21st century.
The band was formed in 1988 by Billy Corgan and James Iha, two aspiring musicians from Chicago, Illinois. After spending a number of months together Corgan and Iha recruited bass player D'Arcy Wretzky. Though they played their first gig with a drum machine, jazz drummer Jimmy Chamberlin joined after a local club owner booked the Pumpkins provided they threw out the drum machine and recruited a human drummer instead.
The band's first major-label CD release, 1991's Gish (named after silent movie actress Lillian Gish) was a minor success, but the band's real commercial and critical breakthrough came in 1993, with the release of Siamese Dream, which solidified the band's signature sound: dense layers of rhythm guitars beneath Corgan's expressive, nasal vocal whine. The disc was a huge success, and sold over four million copies in the United States alone. The follow up album was even bigger, both conceptually and commercially. A sprawling double album running over two hours in length, 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness sold over twelve million copies worldwide. It also garnered seven 1996 Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year.
The band's fortunes changed significantly on July 12, 1996, when tour keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose in New York City, and Chamberlin was arrested for drug possession. Chamberlin was subsequently fired.
Though the band continued to record and tour, their profile had taken a significant downturn. 1998's Adore album represented a significant change of style (incorporating electronica and trimming much of the guitar-driven sonic underpinnings), and received mixed reactions from fans and critics alike. The return of a rehabilitated Jimmy Chamberlin for 2000's Machina/The Machines of God signaled a return to a more familiar Pumpkins sound, but failed to widely connect in the new age of a teen pop star-oriented music market.
The band's lineup changed again at this point. Bass player D'Arcy Wretzky departed during the recording of Machina/The Machines of God, and former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur was recruited for the "Sacred and Profane" tour in support of Machina. In May 2000 Billy Corgan announced the band's decision to disband at the end of that year following additional touring and recording. The band's final album, Machina II/Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, was distributed on the internet by fans for its release in September 2000. Smashing Pumpkins' final commercial recording was a single, Untitled.
Smashing Pumpkins won many awards during their careers (including two Grammy awards: Hard Rock Performance 1996 for "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and Hard Rock Performance 1997 for "The End Is the Beginning Is the End"), headlined several major tours, appeared on a few movie soundtracks and released an impressive number of songs in a fairly short time.
On December 2, 2000 Smashing Pumpkins played their final concert at The Metro, the same Chicago club where their career had effectively started twelve years earlier.
Corgan and Chamberlin would reunite in 2001 as members of Corgan's next project, Zwan.
see also: Zwan