Formed in 1989 in Chicago, Smashing Pumpkins were the first non-Seattle alternative band to hit the mainstream in the wake of Nirvana‘s Nevermind.
Their debut album, Gish (1991), was recorded in a 30-day stint at Butch Vig’s Smart Studios (where Nirvana had laid down the demos for Nevermind eight months earlier) and released on indie label Caroline.
Alternative success brought with it a number of problems: Guitarist James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretsky hooked up then broke up; powerhouse drummer Jimmy Chamberlin got hooked on heroin, and Billy got married and grappled with the responsibility of being the genius Billy Corgan.
Their commercial and critical breakthrough came with Siamese Dream (1993) which went Top 10 and earned triple-platinum status for the group.
The contributions of guitarist James Iha and bassist D’Arcy Wretzky are open to conjecture; Corgan is thought to have played most of the parts himself.
Powerhouse drummer Jimmy Chamberlin added to the chaos with extracurricular excess.
The follow-up album Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness (1995) was less well-reviewed though still sold well. Following its release, a tumultuous series of events propelled the album and the band alike into the public eye.
Within 12 months they achieved seven Grammy nominations, touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvin died of a heroin overdose, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was arrested for drug possession and fired from the band.
Criticised by Bob Mould from Hüsker Dü for being “the grunge Monkees“, egos and drugs ensured the band then trod water creatively until their messy demise after their final album, Machina: The Machines of God in 2000.