The History of The Smashing Pumpkins

Formed in 1988 in Chicago, Illinois, The Smashing Pumpkins broke through to mainstream success with album number two: "Siamese Dream." They bested this top 10 success with "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," which went to number one, and spawned three of their most popular singles. Despite band tensions, the band continued to expand their sound, though with less success. Multiple line-up changes, a brief break-up and several side projects later, The Pumpkins reformed in the late 2000s. Their latest is 2012's "Oceania." In this video, takes a look at the history of The Smashing Pumpkins.

You must login to access this feature

Despite all their rage, they’re still just a rat in a cage. Welcome to, and today we’re taking a look at the history of The Smashing Pumpkins.


The Smashing Pumpkins formed in 1988 in Chicago, Illinois. Consisting of founder and vocalist Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, bassist D’arcy Wretzky and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, the band started performing together and released two successful singles in the early 1990s.


After signing a deal with Caroline Records, The Smashing Pumpkins recorded their debut with $20 thousand, which was a relatively hefty budget for an indie band. Released in 1991, Gish was a labor of love for Corgan, who fine-tuned each individual aspect and played most of the guitar and bass pieces. However, this process took a massive toll on the band dynamic. Though this alternative rock album barely cracked the charts, The Pumpkins did find moderate success with the single, “Rhinoceros.”

Touring and Personal Problems

The next few months were eventful ones: as the band toured and signed with Virgin Records, they dealt with multiple personal problems, including Corgan’s depression, Chamberlin’s drug and alcohol dependencies, and the breakup of Iha’s and D’arcy’s relationship.

Top 10 with “Siamese Dream”

With their sophomore effort, Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins finally had their first taste of mainstream success. The 1993 album debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 and sold an impressive four million copies in America. Like their previous record, Siamese Dream caused tensions within the band because Corgan played many of the instruments. Notable singles included “Disarm” and “Today.”

Topping the Charts with “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”

Thanks to a burst of creativity, Corgan wrote dozens of songs in the following months. This resulted in the 1995 double-disc set Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which topped the Billboard 200 in its first week. The positively reviewed effort was eventually certified nine times platinum. Of its 28 tracks, five were released as singles, including: the Grammy-winning “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” the top twenty hit “1979” and the popular “Tonight, Tonight.”


But tragedy struck while on tour in 1996: touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and Chamberlin both suffered heroin overdoses that resulted in Melvoin’s death, as well as Chamberlin’s arrest and dismissal from the band.

Movie Soundtracks

The band kept going, and found themselves producing more electronic-sounding music for assorted movie soundtracks.

Electronic Influences

The Pumpkins continued exploring electronic influences on 1998’s Adore, which found a spot at number two on Billboard. Despite a Grammy nomination and strong critical reviews, the album was a commercial failure.

Line-Up Changes

Line-up changes plagued the band near decade’s end: while Chamberlin reunited with the band, Wretzky quit and was temporarily replaced by ex-Hole bassist, Melissa Auf der Maur.


Meanwhile, The Pumpkins dropped Machina/The Machines of God in 2000. While it was billed as a return to their rock roots, the album failed to find the same success as their previous work and fell into obscurity after its top three Billboard debut.

Breakup and “Machina II”

Also in 2000, Corgan announced The Smashing Pumpkins’ imminent demise by year’s end. Their last recording, Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music, was released online that September for free.

Other Projects

Members then concentrated on other projects, including the supergroup Zwan and The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. A Smashing Pumpkins compilation entitled Rotten Apples and Corgan’s first solo disc were also issued.


Following two years of reunion talk, Corgan and Chamberlin performed under The Smashing Pumpkins banner with three new touring members in 2007. The album, Zeitgeist, appeared that same year and was met with mixed emotions from critics and fans alike.

New Music and New Line-up

In 2009, Chamberlin left the band several months before the launch of the musical project, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. That concept album was initiated as an ongoing project where tracks were released online individually at no cost, as soon as they were finished. 2012’s Oceania was part of this undertaking, but instead of being free MP3s it marked The Pumpkins’ return to physical albums.

Musical Success

Despite their fame and instability, The Smashing Pumpkins have recorded numerous albums, embarked on several successful tours and sold millions of records. All this is a testament to the fact that it’s not really the band that matters, but the music.

You must register to a corporate account to download. Please login

Related Videos

+ see more