Rolling Stone - Year in Review - Dec 1996

(Sent to us by Boris Feinstein)

Rage, nihilism, pain, despair - these are the words that are most often associated with the SMASHING PUMPKINS. But let's not forget another: determination. In their single-minded eight-year quest to become the world's greatest rock band, the Pumpkins have fended off ever challenge: the scorn of critics and rivals, the bitter breakup of guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy, singer Billy Corgan's nervous breakdown.

This July, the Chicago rockers faced a far bigger obstacle. While touring in support of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which had recently become the best-selling double CD ever, the band's road keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, died of a heroin overdose in a New York hotel room the night before the band was to make its debut as a Madison Square Garden headliner. The Pumpkins' drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was arrested for possession, and the rest of the band members were briefly detained for questioning at a New York precinct house.

The group reacted with Clinton-campaign-like swiftness. The Pumpkins fired Chamberlin, hired a new drummer from the band Filter and a keyboardist, and in a matter of weeks, they were back out on the road. Instead of being destroyed by the crisis, the Smashing Pumpkins moved beyond it, to a new level of stardom. As Corgan later told a reporter, "I think we're probably the most willful people in a band you'd ever want to meet."

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