Various articles about Jimmy and Jonathan

"Pumpkins' ex-drummer pleads guilty" - Chicago Sun-Times October 9, 1996
MTV Week In Rock
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Kurt Loder>> This week, a drug death on tour with Smashing Pumpkins . . . 34 year-old Jonathon Melvoin, a freelance keyboard player currently on tour with Smashing Pumpkins, was found dead in his New York City hotel room early Friday morning apparently from a heroin overdose. Smashing Pumpkins, said by their managers to be totally destroyed by Melvoin's death, postponed all tour dates through July 27th on Friday after drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who has a history of drug problems himself and who police say was with Melvoin when he called 911 late Thursday night, was arrested. Allison Stewart got more on the happenings in the 19th precinct on Friday afternoon.

Allison Stewart>> Thanks Kurt, I'm here outside the 19th precinct where Jimmy Chamberlin, drummer for Smashing Pumpkins, was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Apparently Chamberlin was in the room when Jon Melvoin od'ed. The story goes like this: he was unable to revive Melvoin, called 911, was told to put him in the shower and stick his head under the water, when that didn't work and paramedics arrived, there was drug paraphenelia in the room. Melvoin was pronounced dead of a heroin overdose self-administered with a syringe. 10:30 this morning the entire band came down to the station, all were questioned. About 1:00 today D'Arcy, James Iha, and Corgan left, Chamberlin was still inside. About an hour and a half after the other band members left, Jimmy Chamberlin also exited the 19th precinct, only this time out of a back entrance. He was put into a dark car, tinted windows, and they drove out of here. Insiders say Chamberlin was wobbly and walking with a limp, which may be one of the reasons he left through the back entrance. Of course, Jimmy Chamberlin, drummer for Smashing Pumpkins, charged here today of misdemeanor, criminal possession of a controlled substance. Back to you.

Kurt>> Thanks Ali. Jonathon Melvoin, dead of an apparent heroin overdose at the age of 34 was a rock veteran, the son of the keyboardist who played on Beach Boys records in the 1960's. He was also the brother of Wendy Melvoin, the former guitarist for Prince's band The Revolution, who hired her brother as a drummer when she left Prince in 1986 to form Wendy and Lisa. Among his punk credentials, Jonathon Melvoin listed a sting with LA's fabled Dickies, toured time Chris Connelly, a member of Ministry, Pigface, and Revolting Cocks. There's a story behind Melvoin's hiring by Smashing Pumpkins and here's Jimmy Chamberlin to tell us.

Jimmy>> We basically put an ad in the paper for a keyboard player about eight months ago. We got about a thousand tapes. We didnt listen to any of them. He showed up, he could play, and we hired him.

Kurt>> Jonathon Melvoin leaves behind a wife and three month-old son. His father, Michael, is a former chairman and still trustee of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which last month held a summit meeting to address the growing line of rock drug deaths and arrests over the past two years. Here's a look. "Pumpkins' ex-drummer pleads guilty" - Chicago Sun-Times October 9, 1996

October 10 1996 - ATN

Former Pumpkins Drummer Cuts Deal
Good news for Chamberlin.
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If former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin completes a rehab program by December (and stays clean) he won't go to jail. Here's the deal: Chamberlin, 32, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct when he appeared in court before Criminal Court Judge Donna Recant yesterday (Tues., Oct. 8).

He must complete the rehab program. If he does, he won't go to jail and his court records will be sealed. If he doesn't complete the program, or has a slip, he'll serve 15 days in jail. Chamberlin was present in a Manhattan Hotel room when Pumpkins' touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin overdosed in the early hours of July 12; Chamberlin and Melvoin had injected heroin in the hotel room shortly before midnight on July 11. A week after the tragedy, the Pumpkins fired Chamberlin. Billy Corgan has said that under no circumstances will Chamberlin rejoin the group, which has been touring with temporary drummer Matt Walker, who is a member of Filter.

October 8 1996 - Associated Press

By Samuel Maull

(Thanks Khadejah Dein :)

NEW YORK (AP) James "Jimmy" Chamberlin, fired as drummer for the rock band Smashing Pumpkins after the group's keyboardist died from a drug overdose, pleaded guilty Tuesday to disorderly conduct.

Chamberlin, tieless in a dark blue suit, his jet-black hair spiked, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge before Criminal Court Judge Donna Recant as part of a deal in which he will undergo drug treatment.

If Chamberlin successfully completes a rehabilitation program by December, his court records will be sealed. If he fails, he will serve 15 days in jail.

Chamberlin, 32, of Chicago, was arrested July 12 and charged with misdemeanor drug possession after Jonathan Melvoin, 34, of Croan Ridge, Vt., died of a heroin overdose at the Regency Hotel. He faced up to a year in jail if convicted on that charge.

Police said Chamberlin and Melvoin injected heroin shortly after arriving at the hotel late July 11. Melvoin collapsed around 3:30 a.m., and Chamberlin tried in vain to revive him before calling police.

Smashing Pumpkins' other three members lead singer Billy Corgan, bass player D'Arcy Wretzky, and lead guitarist James Iha were staying at another hotel four blocks away. They were in town for a concert on July 14.

Eight days after Melvoin's death, the band released a statement saying they had ``decided to sever our relationship with our friend and drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin.'' The group had been together six years.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Smashing Pumpkins keyboardist ODs on heroin
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A keyboardist for the alterna-band Smashing PUmpkins was found dead of a heroin overdose in a Mew York hotel room. The band's drummer was arrested on drug charges.

Police found the body of Jonathan Melvoin, 34, in a hotel room Friday at 4:15 a.m. Eastern Time after getting a 911 call from Pumpkins' drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. melvoin was not a regular member of the hugely popular Chicago-based band.

Chamberlin, 22, was charged with drug posession. Other members, including lead singer and guitarist Billy Corgan, were released afterbeing taken with Chamberlin to a police station for questioning.

The Pumpkins' New York and New Jersey weekend concerts were postponed.

The band is touring to support "Mellon Collie." its double CD containing punk, psychedelic, metal and even country music. Melvoin's overdose was the latest in a string of drug deaths in the music world. Responding to spreading concern, music execs have been discussing steps they could take to help musicians and music companies handle the problem.

Chicago Tribune - July 1996
Death, arrest cast pall on Smashing Pumpkins

Chicago band's future in doubt
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A backup musician for best-selling Chicago rock band Smashing Pumpkins was found dead Friday in a New York hotel room, apparently of a drug overdose, and the group's drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, was charged with heroin posession.

The death and the arrest put the group's current 200-date tour-and quite possibly its future-in jeopardy, and added to the string of drug-related tragedies befalling rock bands, entertainers and youth culture in general in recent months. The group postponed the next 12 dates on its tour, including shows Saturday in New York and Sunday in New Jersey, and upcoming dates in Ft.Wayne, Ind., and Moline, Ill.

Chamberlin was with keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin, 34, when he overdosed,a police source told the Associated Press. Melvoin, who was hired to play keyboards and percussion by the band at the beginning of its tour January, and Chamberlin took heroin late Thursday, then passed out in their room at the Regency Hotel, police told the Associated press.

Chamberlin woke at about 3:30 a.m. Friday, could not wake Melvoin and called 911 for help, police told AP. Melvoin was pronounced dead at the hotel at about 4 a.m. A police source told AP that a small amount of heroin was found in the room. Chamberlin was later charged, and the other bands members-singer-guitarist Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, and bassist D'arcy-were questioned and released by police Friday.

"Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go to his (Melvoin's ) wife and family," the band said in a statement released Friday by its publicist. "Most of the members of the band were staying at a nearby hotel and were notified of his death early this morning."

Joe Shanahan, co-owner of the Chicago nightclub Metro and a close friend of Corgan's, sad: "If I were a betting man, I'd say the tour is over. I don't see Billy getting on stage too quickly. he's going to have to sit down with Jimmy. This is a strain that's pushed a button in him before."

Chamberlin, one of rock's finest drummers and a well-liked presence on the Chicago scene for many years, was on the verge of being booted out of the band for drug and alcohol addiction in 1993.

But the drummer entered a rehab program and reportedly had his addictions under control. During the recording of the band's 1995 album, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," the band members agreed that the relationships within the band had never been stronger. the album has gone on to sell 6 million copies, the biggest-selling double cd in rock history.

Melvoin, from New hampshire, joined the band to help it reproduce the more elaborate orchestrations on "Mellon Collie" in concert. Melvoin's father, Michael, is a jazz pianist, and was active in the MusiCares Substance Abuse Initiative, a program sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to combat drug abuse in the music industry. Melvoin's sister Wendy was a key member in Prince's longtime band, the Revolution.

His death is the latest in a string of high-profile heroin-related tragedies in the rock community. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, Hole's Kristen Pfaff and Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon have died directly or indirectly because of heroin use, and Depeche Mode's David Gahan and Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland have been arrested on heroin-possession charges.

Shanahan said melvoin, hired in January, was becoming an integral part of the band on the road, and was even starting to write songs with Corgan and the others.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Ex-Pumpkins drummer enters a guilty plea
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New York-The recently fired drummer for Smashing Pumpkins pleaded guilty Tuesday to disorderly conduct in connection with the July drug-overdose death of the band's touring keyboardist.

Heroin-posession charges against Jimmy Chamberlin, 32, were dropped by the state Supreme Court and his criminal case dismissed. Chamberlin, who took a break from his drug-rehabilitation program to appear in court , must complete the final two to three months of his program as a condition of his release, said his attorney, Richard Schaeffer. Chamberlin has been in rehabilitation since mid-July.

"He's doing great, he looks wonderful, he seems very happy and he's moving on with his life," Schaeffer said. "The issue now is just getting healthy. He didn't discuss the band at all."

Police had alleged that Chamberlin was with keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin, who was shooting heroin in a midtown Manhattan room in the early morning of July 12 when both passed out. When Chamberlin awoke, the 34-year-old Melvoin was dead.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Smashing Pumpkins' drummer hits road
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Smashing Pumpkins, stunned by the death last week of tour keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, on Wednesday fired drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who was with Melvoin in a New York hotel room when Melvoin die, apparently of a heroin overdose.

The remaining band members- Billy Corgan, James Iha, and D'arcy- vowed to complete their North American tour with a replacement drummer.

"For nine years we have battled with Jimmy's struggles with the insidious disease of drug and alcohol addiction," the band members said in a statement.

Chamberlin has been charged with drug posession and faces a court hearing in New York on August. 13.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Smashing Pumpkins get back on tour bus
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Smashing Pumpkins announced Thursday that it will resume its world tour Aug. 27 in Las Vegas with a new touring drummer and keyboardist.

The tour was postponed last month after the heroin-related death of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and the ouster of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Drummer Matt Walker of the industrial band Filter will replace Chamberlin in the lineup, and keyboardist Dennis Flemoin of the pop band the Frogs will replace Melvoin.

Chamberlin faces a hearing in new York next week on a misdemeanor drug charge in connection with Melvoin's heroin overdose July 12.

Chamberlin was fired from the band a few days later, and the surviving members-Billy Corgan, James Iha and D'arcy- began the search for a replacement. Tryouts were held in Chicago this week.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Ex-Pumpkin pleads innocent in drug case
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New York- The recently fired drummer for Smashing Pumpkins pleaded innocent Tuesday to drug possession charges tied to the overdose death of the and's touring keyboardist.

Jimmy Chamberlin, 32, took a break from his drug rehabilitation program too enter his plea in stale Supreme Court. He was released on his own recognizance, pending a Sept. 26 return date, on a misdemeanor charge of heroin possession.

Chamberlin and keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin were allegedly shooting heroin in a midtown Manahattan hotel room in the early morning of July 12 when they both passed out. When Chamberlin awoke, the 34-year-old melvoin was dead inside the room.

A few days later, Chamberlin was fired by the popular alternative rock band. The Pumpkins canceled several tour dates and will resume live shows on Aug. 27 with a new keyboardist and drummer.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Ex-Smashing Pumpkin drummed out for good
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Los Angeles- The Smashing Pumpkins, who went on the road this week for the first time since the U.S. band's keyboardist died of a drug overdose, has ruled out rehiring the drummer in connection with he tragedy. Billy Corgan, the band's vocalist, told Rolling Stone he sometimes wished the original lineup could be back together. "I still believe he's ( Jimmy Chamberlin ) got God's gift. but it would take a lot of tea in China to go back to that," the magazine quoted Corgan in its Sept. 3 article.

Touring keyboard artist Jonathan Melvoin overdosed on a mixture of alcohol and heroin in a New York hotel room on July 12. Chamberlin, the band's drummer who was with Melvoin at the time, was charged with the posession of controlled substances. The band fired Chamberlin five days later. The band resumed their tour in Las Vegas on Tuesday with temporary replacements. Chamberlin faces a court date on Sept. 25 and a maximum term of a year in jail if convicted.

Chicago Tribune - 1996
Demand for killer heroin rises, police say
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New York- News that a rock musician died from an apparent heroin overdose had other drug users flocking to buy the brand that killed him, police said Monday.

Demand for a heroin known as Red Rum-murder spelled backward-rose last weekend on Manhattan's Lower East Side after the death of a backup keyboard player on tour with the band Smashing Pumpkins, narcotics investigators said.

"When people die from something or nearly die," a police official said, "all of a sudden, there's this rush to get it because it must be more powerful and deliver a better high."

Police could not give and exact figure on demand for red Rum.

Los Angeles Times - Saturday July 13, 1996
Heroin Linked to Death on Smashing Pumpkins Tour
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NEW YORK--In another incident illustrating the growing presence of heroin in the world of rock music, a member of Smashing Pumpkins, one of the nation's most popular and acclaimed alternative rock bands, was arrested Friday and charged with heroin possession after a backup musician with the group died of an apparent drug overdose.

Police said Jimmy Chamberlin, 32, the band's drummer, was with Jonathan Melvoin, 34, when the veteran keyboard player overdosed in Park Avenue's posh Regency Hotel. When efforts by the band's security manager failed to revive Melvoin, an ambulance was summoned to the hotel, where the musician was pronounced dead before dawn, police said.

Chamberlin, looking shaken, unsteady and limping, was questioned by detectives at a nearby police precinct then given a summons for misdemeanor drug possession and ordered to appear in court on Aug. 13.

Police said no other arrests were expected.

The tragedy was the latest in an escalating and alarming surge of heroin use among rock groups--a situation has led to one major rock band canceling its tour until drug problems can be resolved.

Melvoin was the son of Michael Melvoin, a jazz musician and arranger and a former head of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, which recently launched an aggressive program to try to stem drug use in the music industry.

Jonathan Melvoin was a veteran musician who was a member of the mid-1980s band the Family, a project overseen by Prince that also included Melvoin's sister, Susannah. Another sister, Wendy Melvoin, was a member of Prince's band, The Revolution.

"Two members of Smashing Pumpkins returned to their room at theRegency. They apparently injected a quantity of narcotics intravenously," said Deputy Police Inspector Wayne Bax, operations commander of Manhattan North detectives.

"They both passed out as a result of the ingestion. A short time later, one of the members was able to awaken and call for help."

Police said Chamberlin and Melvoin began shooting heroin together after 11 p.m. Thursday. At 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Chamberlin awoke and could not rouse Melvoin, police added. Detectives said the drummer then summoned Smashing Pumpkins' security manager who put Melvoin under a shower.

At 4:02 a.m., the pair called 911 and followed phone instructions from New York City's Emergency Medical Service in a futile attempt to resuscitate Melvoin. At 4:15 a.m. paramedics arrived at the hotel and pronounced Melvoin dead.

Other members of the band--frontman Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy--were questioned by detectives at the 19th Precinct, but were not charged. All three left the station house without talking to reporters.

Meanwhile, the interrogation of Chamberlin continued. Finally, shortly after 2 p.m., accompanied by detectives and operations personnel from the band, the drummer, wearing dark glasses, black pants and a striped sports shirt, briefly appeared at the front desk of the police station, where he was given the summons.

He was unsteady on his feet and left the station house in a car with darkened windows.

"It is with great sadness that this morning, Jonathan Melvoin, who has been touring with our band as a keyboardist and percussionist for the past six months, passed away from an apparent drug overdose," the band said in a statement released through its publicist. "Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go to his wife and family."

Michael Greene, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and a longtime friend of the Melvoin family, said that to his knowledge, the dead musician had not used drugs in the past.

"He was a dedicated keyboard player. This was really his first tour . . . and his big break. Everyone was so happy for him," Greene added.

Chamberlin has received treatment over the years for drug addiction, according to health professionals familiar with his case.

"He has been in and out of rehabilitation," said a source.

Smashing Pumpkins, one of rock's biggest acts, postponed three concerts scheduled in the New York area as well as shows scheduled through July 27 in the Midwest and South.

No changes have been announced for the rest of the tour, including an appearance on Aug. 21 at the Forum in Inglewood and Aug. 23 and 24 dates at the Anaheim Pond.

The band's mix of brooding melodies and lyrics speaking of internal yearning and anguish have struck strong and lucrative chords with young rock fans, many of whom saw the group as filling the void left by Nirvana, whose leader Kurt Cobain committed suicide in April 1994 after struggling with heroin addiction.

Corgan has often talked in interviews about his own fights with depression and personal demons. Fans say the honest vulnerability he projects has inspired some of the same kind of affection Cobain had garnered.

The Pumpkins, in fact, took the headlining slot of the 1994 Lollapalooza alternative rock tour after Nirvana withdrew shortly before Cobain's death. Its "Siamese Dream" album was a hit, selling 3.7 million copies. The band's follow-up, "Melon Collie & the Infinite Sadness," has sold almost 3 million copies so far.

Drug use--especially heroin--has been the focus of a major campaign by the recording academy. The effort was initiated in the wake of the October cocaine overdose death of Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon and intensified following the Memorial Day weekend death of Sublime singer Bradley Nowell and the arrest of Depeche Mode singer David Gahan.

In April, the popular band Stone Temple Pilots had to cancel plans for summer concerts so that singer Scott Weiland could undergo drug rehabilitation.

Many music executives say the stressful environment of rock tours can lead to drug use.

"This shows the road is potentially a death trap," Greene said. "It's an artificial environment [to be on tour with a band] and there's no support system out there. It's a free fall."

People Magazine - July 29, 1996

"The Night The Music Died"
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The story is depressingly familiar. Jonathan Mevloin, a promising young musician touring with Smashing Pumpkins, one of the music's most acclaimed bands, had returned to a Manhattan hotel room with Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin on the night of July 11 after scoring a quantity of high grade heroin on a seedy street corner in the East Village. By 4a.m. the next morning, Chamberlin was calling police after waking from a drug-induced stupor and finding Melvoin, 34, who had been playing keyboards for the band since they begin their world tour in January; dead of an overdose.

Melvoin "was no goody two shoes," one friends concedes, yet the manner of his death "just didn't seem like him," So what might have happened? "When you're out on the road," notes on of the band's intimates, "you're in this little cocoon. You're sort of alternate reality." Adds Melvoin's friend: "Every night you've got people bringing you drugs. All that could have been contributed to it That's just the way it goes."

With the death of, Melvoin joins Jerry Garcia, Kurt Cobain, and a long roll call of musicians seduced by heroin, including fellow alternative rockers Shannon Hoon of Blind Mellon and Kristen Pfaff of Hole. Ironically, Smashing Pumpkins - which had been enjoying the greatest success of their nine-year existence with their tour and recent Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album, selling over 3 million copies in the U.S. - has a reputation, despite Chamberlin's past struggles with substance abuse, as a drug-free group.

"Heroin hasn't been a problem with the other members," says a source close to the band. They did, though, know about Chamberlin's addiction. In a strongly worded statement issues Wednesday, Billy Corgan, 29, James Iha, 28, and D'Arcy, 29, said they had decided to sever ties with Chamberlin, 32, because of his long-term problems with alcohol and drugs, coupled with his arrest on possession charges, "has nearly destroyed everything we are and stand for."

The manner of Melvoin's death is also out of keeping with everything he was expected to stand for. The bother of former Prince protege Wendy Mevloin and the son on Mike Melvoin, a jazz pianist who is a former chairman of the National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences and a crusader against drugs in the music industry, Jonathan began playing drums at the age of 5. His parents divorced when he was 14, and he moved with his mother from California to New York City and eventually to Conway, N.H. In 1994, Melvoin, who worked between gigs as an emergency medical technician, and his wife, Laura, bought a home in Kearsarge, N.H. and prepared for the birth of their son Jacob August last spring. When the call came from the Pumpkins, Melvoin "said he was proud that the Pumpkins was a drug-free band," recalls Meghan Simone, who interviews him for a Conway high school paper last December.

After Melvoin's death, the group suspended their tour, but only temporarily. The would take time to mourn, then get back on the road.

Reuters - July 18, 1996

Smashing Pumpkins death spurs music industry debate
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LOS ANGELES (Reuter) - Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll has for years been the battle cry of the music industry's most cherished and money- making icons.

But with heroin use on the rise and a spate of high-profile drug- related deaths in rock bands -- most recently last week's death of Smashing Pumpkins keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin -- the record industry is under fire to declare a war on drugs. Reflecting a more proactive stance, the Smashing Pumpkins said it was firing drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who was arrested in New York for narcotics possession last weekend in an incident related to Melvoin' s death in a Manhattan hotel.

Ironically, New York police reported that Melvoin's death has spurred a rise in demand for the brand of heroin that killed him. The death also unleashed criticism that the record industry too often glamorizes drug use in its content and looks the other way when profitable, but addicted, stars are heading down the path towards self-destruction.

"The view has been that it is better to leave well enough alone, " said a drug counselor referring to record companies. "By interfering with an artist, it would meant that he or she wouldn't be able to show up for a concert. Instead, the attitude is 'Sure, we'll get you some coke, or a bottle of Jack.' If you start interfering, you're talking about millions of dollars in lost revenues. " John Panozzo, former drummer for the rock band Styx who died in Chicago Wednesday from a condition linked by the coroner to alcohol abuse, was the latest in a growing list of young musicians who have lost their

lives to substance abuse. Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and organizer of an industrywide anti-drug campaign, said the record industry has been in a state of denial about itsdrug problem for seven decades.

"It's an industry in denial and invested in a stance of substance abuse," he told Reuters. "A record company should be willing to stop a tour to help its investment or that investment is going to be flushed down the toilet, " Greene said, referring to recent tragedies including the Memorial Day death of Sublime singer Bradley Nowell, the arrest of Depeche Mode singer David Gahan, the October cocaine overdose death of Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon and the April 1994 suicide of Nirvana's leader Kurt Cobain, who had struggled with heroin addiction for years. Earlier rock legends such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison also died young following long bouts of drug and alcohol abuse. But the announcement by Smashing Pumpkins and comments by other record industry sources indicate that saying no to drugs is seen as the way to go.

"Today, we are very sorry to tell our friends and fans that we have decided to sever our relationship with our friend and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin," the Smashing Pumpkins said in a statement. "For nine years, we have battled with Jimmy's struggles with the insidious disease of drug and alcohol addiction. It has nearly destroyed everything we are and stand for. We have decided to carry on without him and we wish him the best that we have to offer," the band said. Greene last month called a meeting of record executives to set up an industrywide hot line and other services. The meeting drew only a mixed reception. Several label executives said they simply prefer to keep their artists' problems confidential and deal with them on an internal level.

NEWSWEEK - July 22, 1996
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Another drug tragedy in the world of rock.

It seemed like a bad dream: On Friday morning rock fans woke to the news of another dreadful death. Jonathan Melvoin, keyboardist and fifth touring member of the Smashing Pumpkins, died in a New York hotel of a suspected her overdose. He was 34. According to police, Melvoin and Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who's had previous bouts of drug abuse, scored heroin the night before. Chamberlin awoke around 3:30 a.m. and saw that Melvoin was in trouble. He summoned band security and, 15 minutes later, called 911. Melvoin was pronounced dead shortly after 4 a.m.; Chamberlin was arrested and charged with heroin possession. Lead singer Billy Corgan was questioned by police but released.

Melvoin's death is the latest in a disheartening series of drug incidents. Stone Temple Pilots canceled their summer tour because of lead singer Scott Weilands addiction and court-ordered rehab. Shannon hoon of Blind Melon died of an overdose in October. Sublime, Skinny Puppy and Hole have lost band members, purportedly to heroin, since 1994.Melvoin's death stung the industry: his sister Wendy Melvoin, half of Prince's former backing duo Wendy and Lisa and his father is a prominent jazz keyboardist. "We called him Mr. Perfect," said Stan Lee of the punk band Dickies, with whom Melvoin played from 1990 to 1994. "He was well cultured, he knew what kind of wine to drink with what fish. It's a tragedy. It's a drag."

USA Today - July 1996
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Despite the record industry's anti-drug stance, musicians are continuing to use and die.

Jonathon Melvoin, a 34-yearold back up musician for Smashing Pumpkins, died of a heroin overdose Friday in a Manhattan hotel room. He was the son of Mike Melvoin, former chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) and an anti-drug activist.

Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, 32, is charged with heroin possesion. Police said the rockers shot heroin and passed out. Chamberlin called 911 when he couldn't rouse Melvoin.

Band members Billy Corgan, James Iha, and D'Arcy were questioned but not charged. Their shows through July 27 are postponed.

Years ago, the band nearly fired Chamberlin for drug problems. He recently told USA TODAY that addiction was behind him and that drug use in rock circles in exaggerated because "the media prey on rock musicians. I've been to plet of (Naratics Anonymous) meeting and been the only musician there."

Said NARAS president Michael Greene: "The insidious carnage" that drugs inflict on young people "will sooner or later touch everyone. We must...deglamorize drugs, educate our people and support those who have problems."

New York Times - Friday July 14, 1996
Musician for Smashing Pumpkins Dies of Apparent Drug Overdose
Rash Of Heroin related incidents plagues industry
New York Times - Neil Strauss

Thanks to Eve Stahlberger

A keyboard player touring with the Smashing Pumpkins, one of alternative rock's most popular bands, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in his room at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan yesterday, and the band's drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin was arrested on drug possession charges, the police said. The incident, the latest in many heroin related fatalities and arrests that have shaken the music industry in the last two years, prompted Smashing Pumpkins to postpone all their upcoming tour dates in the United States this month, a band spokeswoman said, including sold out shows scheduled for last night and tonight at Madison Square Garden and a show tommyrot night at the Continental Airlines Arena in East rutherford, New Jersey.

The keyboard player, Jonathan Melvoin of Kearsage, NH had been hired by the band as a back up musician for it's current world tour. The police said that he and Mr. Chamberlin, 32, arrived at the hotel on Park Avenue and 61st street, at 11pm Thursday and later passed out after injecting heroin together. When Mr. Chamberlin awoke at 3:30 am, he found that he could not rouse Mr. Melvoin and summoned the band's security manager for help, said Captain Michael Collins, a police department spokesperson. The two men made several attempts to revive Mr. Melvoin, including putting him under the shower, the captain said and called 911 at 4:02 am. Paramedics arrived at 4:30am and declared Mr. Melvoin dead, and Mr. Chamberlin was arrested and charged with criminal possession of heroin, a misdemeanor, after traces of the drug were found in a needle in the room, the captain said.

Captain collins said that although the police questioned other band members and employees at the hotel, " no other arrests are anticipated." Detectives have also cleared Mr. Chamberlin of negligence for not calling 911 immediately, saying that they believed Mr. Melvoin if he was alive at the time-could not have been revived even if emergency workers had arrived sooner.

The members of The Smashing Pumpkins have a history of personal problems: Mr. Chamberlin had been treated for addiction to alcohol and heroin, and Billy Corgan the bands lead singer suffered a nervous breakdown in 1992.

The band's current album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness a two CD set in which lyrics of self pity, depression, and nihilism are augmented by heavy, distorted guitars, and mock classical string arrangements entered the music charts at number one nine months ago and has remained in the top forty ever since. Lyrics like"despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage" and "I'm in love with my sadness have become sing alongs for alternative rock fans, who like their heros to be melancholy instead of macho.

Heroin use has long plagued musicians, but music industry executives said they could not remember a time in the last two decades when heroin use has been more rampant.

Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and Kurt Cobain were struggling with heroin addiction when they died, Kristen Pfaff of hole and Dwayne Goettel of Skinny Puppy died of overdoses; Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, after being treated for heroin addiction, died of an overdose of cocaine. And Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots, Kelley Deal of the Breeders and Al Jourgenson of Ministry have all been arrested for heroin possession in the last year and a half. Mr. Weiland and Miss Deal were ordered to check into drug treatment centers.

"Heroin use had definitely increased among musicians, " said Tim Collins, who manages Aerosmith and is one of the industries most out spoken supporters of music based out reach programs. Mr. Collins said that years ago, there was a staff member on his payroll as a promotions employee whose primary function was to obtain drugs for the band. He said that members of the band successfully went through drug treatment in the 1980's. In a statement released yesterday afternoon the Smashing Pumpkins said "It is with great sadness that this morning, Jonathan Melvoin who had been touring with our band as a keyboardist and percussionist for the past six months passed away from an apparent drug overdose. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go to his wife am\nd family."

Before joining the Smashing Pumpkins, Mr. Melvoin played drums and sang back up vocals on albums by Prince in the mid 1980's and played drums with the punk rock group the Dickies until 1994. His sister Wendy Melvoin is best known for being one half of Wendy and Lisa, the sultry musicians and singers of Prince's former band the Revolution. Their father Michael, was the chairman of the National Academy of recording Arts and Sciences 10 years ago, and has been active in it's Musicares program, which advises and treats musicians with substance abuse problems.

Rolling Stone Magazine - July 1996

"Smashing Pumpkins: Keybordist dies of Drug Overdose;
Drummer charged with possession"
Thanks to
Irene for typing this up for us

In the pre dawn hours of July 12, Jonathan Melvoin, a touring Keybordist and percussionist for the Smashing Pumpkins, was found dead of an apparent heroin over dose in a room at the Regency Hotel in New York. Jimmy Chamberlin, the band's drummer, who police said had been using drugs with Melvoin at the time of his death, was substance. The other band members - lead singer Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, and bassist D'Arcy - were taken to a New York police station for questioning, but no additional arrests are expected.

Five days later, the Pumpkins severed their relationship with Chamberlin. They plan to seek an immediate replacement drummer and then finish their year long world tour. The first scheduled concert for the second part of the U.S. leg of the tour is Aug. 17, in San Francisco.

The July 12 incidents forced the postponement of 12 dates of the Pumpkins' tour, one of the most anticipated musical events of the summer. The band was to have played the first two sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden on the day Melvoin died.

The police said Chamberlin and Melvoin had been shooting a particularly pure strain of heroin known as Red Rum late on July 11, before passing out early the next morning in the hotel room. Chamberlin awoke at 3:30 a.m. and could not revive Melvoin, who was pronounced dead shortly after 4 a.m. Chamberlin was charged with a misdemeanor and ordered to appear before a New York judge on August 13.

Most sources contacted by ROLLING STONE expressed surprise that Melvoin - a veteran musician who had worked with Prince and Los Angeles punk-rock veterans the Dickies - was using heroin. But Bob Timmins, a leading drug interventionist who has worked with Aerosmith and been consulted in the case of Kurt Cobain, Blind Mellon's Shannon Hoon and other celebrities, said he was told of 2 separate incidents in which Melvoin had been struggling with the drug: one while the Pumpkins were on tour in Thailand in February and a second time in Spain in May."By the time of death, from what I've been told, Melvoin's problem wasn't a secret to people around the band," says Timmins. "People were trying to do what they knew they should do. But someone should have called an expert to help out."

Melvoin and Chamberlin were staying at a different hotel than the rest of the band, and Timmins says he was told by a source close to the band that Melvoin had been warned that if he was caught using heroin again, he would be fired. The Pumpkins and their management company, Q Prime declined comment. Ironically, Melvoin's father, Michael,a former chairman of the NARAS MusiCares Substance abuse Initiative, which works to combat drug use in the music community.

Chamberlin admitted in a 1994 ROLLING STONE cover story that in the past he'd "gotten high in every city in this country and probably half the cities in Europe." But in recent past years, he had reportedly been clean. On July 17, the Pumpkins issued a statement in which they said, "For nine years we have battled with Jimmy's struggles with the insidious disease of drug and alcohol addiction. It ha nearly destroyed everything we are and stand for...We wish [him] the best we have to offer."

Unknown source and date
Thanks to Irene for typing this up for us

The alternaflesh music industry received another harsh blow on an already tarnished image last Friday, July 12th when Smashing Pumpkin's keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died in New York of an apparent heroin overdose. Arrested on a misdemeanor drug possession charge was Pumpkin's drummer Jimmy Chamberlin who was shooting up with Melvoin when the keyboardist overdosed. The Pumpkin's Infinite Sadness tour has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So we are all sitting around the Jitter office and thinking...another overdose? At what point does the music industry wake up? I'm not trying to spout my views or beliefs, but when will all the deaths stop? The world has already lost the talents of many, many artists from heroin use. If it's a dangerously addictive drug, seemingly life debilitating, and it's killing your friends...why then start?

With the recent deaths of Shannon Hoon, Jerry Garcia, Kristen Pfaff (Hole), and now Melvoin, the music industry is finally taking steps to stop the widespread abuse. Though, in fact, they are the ones who caused it. I read recently where Blind Melon's manager used to get the stuff for Shannon Hoon. How many other tour manager's out there are taking care of their band's needs? Is the music industry serious about cleaning up the mess? Or are they just going through the motions?

The pressures of the business, becoming overnight "superstars," puts a lot of celebrities at risk. Today, we just automatically assume that all of our favorite stars are pumped up on coke, heroin or meth. It is a rite of passage for any artist, musician or otherwise. The recurring problems don't easily go away as Stone Temple Pilot singer Scott Weiland could tell you. This guy is at the top of his career! Is heroin so important that you would sacrifice your life's work? In Weiland's case the drug becomes all encompassing. Everything else take's a back seat. And that is the case for most heroin addicts. The drug gets you high the first few times, then in a true paradox the drug no longer provides the euphoric rush; instead, it merely keeps you feeling "normal" and without the symptoms of withdrawal...sweats, nausea, cramping.

The real tragedy is that heroin and the music industry are caught in a deadly time loop. The younger kids of today see their heroes and want to emulate them. A vicious cycle. How many of today's musicians do smack because of the Rolling Stone's Keith Richard's legendary habit? And this guy is still alive! Just knowing that today, in a suburban garage, their sits a couple of aspiring teen-age musicians getting ready to shoot up because their heroes Cobain, Hendrix, and Hoon used the opiate. Well we all know how they ended up. Lives destroyed in the prime of their being. Can we ever break the cycle?