"Corgan smashing on stage, and on court"

Chicago Daily Herald - Thurdsday, January 9th, 1997

(Transcribed by LilyAnne Raphael)

Billy Corgan isn't known for his jump shots on the basketball court. He is known as the lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins, a rock band that earned seven nominations for Grammy awards this week, including "Album of the Year."

But the man who reportedly fought off a nervous breakdown and sold 7 million records screaming lyrics like "despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage," is not the same Billy Corgan who grew up in Glendale Heights.

Those who remember Corgan from the days he walked the halls of Marqurdt Middle School and Glenbard North Hish School say he was reserved, with a sense of humore and a "goofy smile."

"He had a great jump shot from the baseline," said Bob Miller, who coached Corgan on the eighth grade basketball team. "He always was a hard worker on the court."

But Corgan wasn't part of the bantering on the bus to and from games, Miller said. "He was not part of the group that showed a lot of energy," he said.

Recently Miller saw a magazine article featuring Corgan, along with a picture of him in the nude (DETAILS).

"That was not the same young man I knew in 1980," Miller said. JoAnn Clark knew Corgan because he was friends with her son during their junior high school years and often came over to her house.

"He was a little shy," Clark said. "But he didn't seem different in any way from the other boys."

A 1985 graduate of Glenbard North High School, Corgan wrote music reviews for the school newspaper.

In a 1984 article, Corgan reviewed a band that was on the cutting edge of the alternative music scene at the time. Corgan predicted R.E.M. "will probably never break (into) the mainstream radio market."

Today, R.E.M.'s melodic tunes seem tame compared to the crashing guitar riffs and angry, foul-mouthed lyrics of today's alternative scene where the Smashing Pumpkins is a leader.

But who knew?

In a 1994 story in the Glenbard North student newspaper, classmates of Corgan remember he was wearing "leather and chains" when everyone else was into "parachute pants and break dancing."

"He was a little ahead of his time," Clark said. Perhaps there were a few clues.

A classmate of Corgan's quoted in the school newspaper remembers him cutting the tail off a cat meant for dissection and sticking the tail in his back pocket.

Today's Glenbard North students report hearing older siblings say Corgan, "didn't fit in" when he was in high school.

Sophomore Chris Gawlick said his older sister dated Corgan for six months while she was a freshman and Corgan was a senior.

"She said he always had big dreams about being in a band," Gawlick said. "She said he was different and didn't fit in."

Students opinions of the songs Corgan writes and records are divided.

Senior Jaime Skotten said he prefers groups like Prodigy in the "techno-rave" category.

But freshman Dayna Flores said she likes Corgan's music. "His music describes his feelings," Flores said. "That's why I think so many people can relate to the music."

Some students see him as a role model and an inspiration. "He just shows you anyboy can be anything," said sophomore Chris Gawlick. "You just have to put your mind to it."

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