Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pop on the Rocks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pop on the Rocks

Article excerpt

For the modern-rock act Smashing Pumpkins, the name of their currently postponed Infinite Sadness tour seems painfully prescient. Last Friday, Jonathan Melvoin, 34, a keyboardist added to augment the touring outfit, was pronounced dead of an apparent heroin overdose in Manhattan's Regency Hotel. Smashing Pump kins drummer Jimmy Cham berlin, who allegedly was taking heroin with Melvoin, was charged with possession.

The Smashing Pumpkins, who canceled a number of dates, including two sold-out shows at Madison Square Gar den, have also postponed their Sunday appearance at the Kiel Center. Ticket-holders are in structed to hold onto their tickets, which a spokes person at Contem porary said will be honored at a later date.

Melvoin's death and the charges against Chamberlin are just the latest incidents involving celebrities and drugs. The Stone Temple Pilots saw their much anticipated major tour derail when lead singer Scott Weiland was recently ordered into rehab by authorities. In recent years, heroin has claimed the lives of Hole's Kristen Pfaff, Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon, Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood, and Seven Year Bitch's Stefanie Sargent.

Although the latest Smashing Pumpkins mess is one more example of the revival of heroin as the hipster's drug of choice, it's important to also look at it in terms of the personal cost wreaked on those who should be at the top of their artistic game.

What all this means for the future of the Smashing Pumpkins is hard to say. A product of the single-minded focus of singer-guitarist-songwriter Billy Corgan, the Smashing Pumpkins are one of the most popular rock bands in the world. With their current release, 1995's "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," the band confounded naysayers by delivering an ambit ious double-CD that has gone multi-platinum.

Ultimately, the Smashing Pumpkins are Corgan's show. Whether you like his music or not, it's his vision, dedication and unflagging energy that have rocketed the band onto the international stage. Although I've slagged some of his recent work, I also have a good deal of respect for Corgan. He's hard-working and driven in ways that far outdistance most musicians in the modern-rock world. Although looking at his greased-up bald head on the cover of Spin was stomach-churning, I'll give it to this freakazoid that he did not become a superstar by sitting on his butt, waiting for a trend to hop.

Although Corgan is the brain-trust of the band, bassist D'Arcy and guitarist James Iha are little more than window-dressing -- the pretty faces that spice up MTV videos and magazine covers. D'Arcy and Iha are, musically, completely disposable; drummer Chamberlin is not. Good drummers are hard to find, and Chamberlin happens to be a great one. Listening to the roar of the Pumpkins' biggest rockers, you can hear the enormous depth of his musical contribution to the band. …

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