After a turbulent, 12 year long career, the Smashing pumpkins are seen by many as one of the most important and influential bands of the 1990's. Throughout their career, they have formed a colossal fan base, as well as many rivals. However, one thing is certain, and that is that the Smashing Pumpkins have not gone un-noticed. Formed in 1988, in Chicago (USA) by frontman, "Billy Corgan", the Smashing Pumpkins consisted of only three members (Billy Corgan, James Iha, D'arcy Wretsky) and a drum machine. However, after tentative gigs, the faithful drum machine was replaced with talented jazz drummer, "Jimmy Chamberlain".
The Smashing Pumpkins released two singles on 7" vinyl in the years leading up to their debut album, "Gish" (1991). These two singles, "I Am One" (1989) and "Tristessa" (1990), alongside "Gish" united Indie and Metal fans. Although "Gish" was totally eclipsed by the release of Nirvana's "Nevermind", the interest in the band was enough to secure a deal with "Virgin America" which resulted in the release of 5 further commercially available albums, and one "Official Bootleg" album.
In 1993, the Smashing Pumpkins released their second album, "Siamese Dream". During the recording of "Siamese Dream", relations between James Iha and D'arcy Wretsky had deteriorated due to the rancorous end of their romance. Due to this internal conflict, Billy Corgan played many of Iha and Wretsky's parts for the album. Corgans perfectionism paid off when "Siamese Dream" went triple platinum, hit the US top 10 and the UK top 5 in the album charts. After that, on tour, Iha and Wretsky polished their act to Corgans standard, and the band looked certain to continue indefinitely. Due to the huge success of "Siamese Dream", and the demand for new material from fans, a compilation of rarities and B-sides was put together. This compilation was named "Pisces Iscariot" and was released in 1994. Although nowhere near as successful as "Siamese Dream", "Pisces Iscariot" sold well amongst true fans and highlighted Corgan's immense ability as a song-writer.
This was re-inforced with the release of "Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness" (1995). "Melon Collie..." is a 28 track, two disk album, which is one of rock music's best selling albums, to date. Apart from isolated moments, such as the orchestral accompanied "Tonight, Tonight" (which reached No. 1 slots in many singles charts, including the UK and the US), the delicate "Cupid De Locke", and the Joy Division-y hit "1979", the album was full of rage. This is highlighted by their first smash, "Bullet With Butterfly Wings". All of the band members were present for the recording of the album, and internal relations were said to be at an all time high. However, un-known to everyone, soon, something was to happen which would result in the dismissal of one of the band members. This particular incident happened on one evening, after a show at New York's "Madison Square Garden". The tour's keyboard player, Jonathan Melvoin, died from a Heroin overdose. This, in turn, turned the spotlight on Chamberlain's long-time drug problems. Within weeks, Chamberlain was out of the band, and the Smashing Pumpkins were back on the road with Matt Walker, of "Filter", on drums.
In 1996, a much loved box set of singles from "Melon Collie..." was released. This was called "The Aeroplane Flies High", and consisted of five E.P's, (the five singles that were released from "Melon Collie..." were in sets of 2. These sets of 2 were combined to make on E.P for each single, consisting of the A-side and all of the B-sides). These E.P's were all presented in a black and white box, with a booklet containing linear notes and song lyrics. This box set was directed at true fans of the band, and is considered more as a collectors item than a general release.
Having lost their drummer, after the tour, the Smashing Pumpkins were back where they had started in 1988 (Billy Corgan, James Iha, D'arcy Wretsky, and a drum machine). This line up influenced Billy Corgan's song-writing hugely, and shortly, the Smashing Pumpkins began work on their 5th studio album, "Adore". This album was to change the way that many people thought of the Smashing Pumpkins. The new album was tipped to be a much mellower album than much of the previous Smashing Pumpkin's back catalogue. It was said to be an album containing many more synth style sounds, and the wider use of such instruments as the piano. Although this was true to an extent, "Adore" still contained many guitar based songs. The main difference was that the guitars were not at the forefront of the songs. However, the album generally did sound more synthesised than anything that the Smashing Pumpkins had done before.
At this point in time, the success of the Smashing Pumpkins had affected Billy Corgan's ego much more than it had done previously. Having made accusations that "Rock was dead" Billy Corgan made new enemies. Amongst these enemies were Trent Reznor (of "Nine Inch Nails") and Marilyn Manson. This accusation resulted in the release of a song named "Rock Is Dead" by Marilyn Manson (a gripe at Billy Corgan's egotistical ways), and a song by Nine Inch Nails, aimed at such people as Billy Corgan and Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit) named "Starf**kers Inc.". This song was about how image is often deemed more important than music, and how certain people let stardom go to their heads.
A year later, in 1999, Jimmy Chamberlain rejoined the band, and the Smashing Pumpkins began work on their next album. This , unknown to many, would turn out to be the Smashing Pumpkins's last commercially available album. The album was said to be a much more rock oriented album as opposed to "Adore". The Smashing Pumpkins revived their well known sound, with the loud guitars and crashing drums. This resulted in Billy Corgan making accusations that he was the person to revive rock music. Once again, this created much contempt towards Billy and his band mates, amongst other rock acts. However, the recording sessions of the new album, "Machina/The Machines Of God" created tension between D'arcy And Jimmy Chamberlain. This resulted in D'arcy quitting the band after the recording sessions, never to play with the Smashing Pumpkins again. Meanwhile, "Machina" was selling well amongst fans. Two singles were released from "Machina"; "Stand Inside Your Love" (Prior to the release of the album) and "Try,Try,Try" (after the announcement of the termination of the band). Neither of these singles reached high positions in the singles charts, yet they sold well amongst fans. In the early months of 2000, the Smashing Pumpkins did a small tour, promoting "Machina". For this tour, they acquired the skills of ex-"Hole" bassist, "Melissa Auf De Mer".
Then, in the last months of 2000, they embarked on a colossal world tour, named "The Sacred And Profane" tour. Once the Smashing Pumpkins had completed the American leg of the tour, they announced that they would be splitting up. The concerts that they were playing were often about two and a half hours long, and included material spanning their whole career. At the start of each concert, an announcement was made, informing people of their last ever studio album. This album was completely free and only available via download from the internet. During concerts, the band would encourage people to download the album, and copy it onto CD. This album was a double CD, and consisted of 3 E.P's alongside a 14 track LP (25 tracks in total). It was named, "Machina 2/The Friends And Enemies Of Modern Music". Twenty-Five copies of the album were made and distributed on vinyl amongst fans. They were then instructed to distribute the songs, on the internet, free of charge, as a farewell gesture to their fans.
On the second of December 2000, the Smashing Pumpkins made their last ever public appearance, as a band, at the "Metro" in Chicago (the very same club that the band played their first ever gig, on October 5th 1988). The concert that night included guest appearances from "Cheap Trick's" Rick Nielsen, and Billy Corgan's father, "Bill Snr" (a renowned Chicago guitarist in his own right). The concert was just over 4 hours long, and consisted of 37 songs spanning their whole career. The Smashing Pumpkins finished their set on a final encore of "Silverf**k", with fans said to be in a state of delirium. Finally, Billy Corgan stood centre stage, looking into the crowd, taking in the finality of it all. Overcome by emotion, he bowed over and began crying himself, saying "Thankyou" to his fans, barely being able to form the words. An extremely emotional end to an extremely emotional career that was the Smashing Pumpkins!!!