Jimmy Chamberlin Leaves Smashing Pumpkins

Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin has left the Smashing Pumpkins, leaving Billy Corgan as the only original member in the band’s lineup.

A statement on the alternative band’s Web site says:

“The Smashing Pumpkins’ guitarist, singer, songwriter and founding member Billy Corgan has announced that drummer Jimmy Chamberlin has left the group. Chamberlin joined the band Corgan founded in Chicago in 1988 and played on all their albums except Adore (1998). Corgan will continue to write and record as Smashing Pumpkins with plans to head into the studio this spring.”

Photo: AP Photo
Spike TV Scream Awards, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles.

After forming in 1988, the Pumpkins fired Chamberlin in 1996 after he and keyboard player Jonathon Melvoin passed out on heroin in a New York hotel. Melvoin died of an overdose and Chamberlin was arrested and originally charged for possession. The drummer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly content and agreed to enter rehab, thereby avoiding a jail sentence.

The band reassembled with Chamberlin in 1999 for a brief tour and then broke up in 2000 following bassist D’arcy Wretzky’s departure. Chamberlin and Corgan once again joined forces as part of supergroup Zwan. After just one album, 2002’s Mary Star of the Sea, the band parted ways.

In 2005 Corgan announced the Pumpkins planned to reunite and in 2007 the Smashing Pumpkins played its first show in seven years with original members Corgan and Chamberlin and new touring members Jeff Schroeder on guitar, Ginger Reyes on bass and Lisa Harriton on keyboards.

Chamberlin’s last album with the Pumpkins was 2007’s Zeitgeist, which was recorded entirely by Chamberlin and Corgan.

Although the band’s recent statement said Corgan is heading into the studio to work on new music, Corgan told the Chicago Tribune in December that Zeitgeist is the Pumpkins’ last album.

We’re done with that. There is no point. People don’t even listen to it all. They put it on their iPod, they drag over the two singles, and skip over the rest. The listening patterns have changed, so why are we killing ourselves to do albums, to create balance, and do the arty track to set up the single? It’s done. … Our primary function now is to be a singles band, that drives Pumpkins Inc. through singles.

Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha was recently in the headlines for joining forces with members of Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne and Hanson to form supergroup Tinted Windows. Corgan has made headlines of his own by appearing before the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Performance Rights Act – which would force terrestrial radio stations to pay record labels for the music they play – and then delivering a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger.

So what do you think of Chamberlin’s departure from the Pumpkins? Without Chamberlin’s mad drumming skills, should Corgan just give up the Smashing Pumpkins name? Or is Corgan enough to carry on the Pumpkins’ legacy as the only original member? 

Check out the Smashing Pumpkins’ Web site here.

Read the Chicago Tribune article here.