Billy Corgan Loves Him Some "Rock Hall Billy Corgan"

This week Billy Corgan spoke up in support of himself in regards to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

I have some love for Smashing Pumpkins. I truly do. 

They had one of the best three album arcs of any band with Gish (1991), Siamese Dream (1993), and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995). 

I still listen to them fairly often, I share a love of pro-wrestling with Billy Corgan, and I think Jimmy Chamberlin is an amazing drummer.

But, they should not be in the Hall Of Fame (at least not yet).

Just Billy Loving Billy

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish

Let's get this out of the way first, I am pretty sure when Billy Corgan is talking about his "band" getting in the Rock Hall, I doubt very much he is talking about what most of us would consider his "band."

Most SP fans would say "the band" is/was:

Billy Corgan

James Iha

D'arcy Wretzky

Jimmy Chamberlin

I am pretty sure when Billy is talking about his "band" that he is really talking about Billy Corgan. Aside from an occasional compliment towards Jimmy, I don't remember him being particularly fond of his "band."

In the last 15 years, he has switched out band members like mismatched socks.

I will give full credit to late 80's early 90's Billy Corgan. He was an amazing songwriter and front man. Since then? Not so much. I can't tell if it is the curse of getting exactly what you want (total credit and control) or proof that Iha and D'arcy meant much more to the sound than Billy ever gave them credit for.

Anyway, I would never push for Billy Corgan to be in the Rock Hall of Fame with side-muppets of his choosing. His work with the post-classic SP lineup has been curious at best.

Don't Jump The Line

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures

Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures

There are a ton of acts and artists who should be in line ahead of Smashing Pumpkins (even if I ultimately agree that three album arc justifies their inclusion). Let's just talk about alternative acts here (I have already written about my support for The JB's, Nile Rogers, and Janet Jackson).

I have already exhaustively made the case that Kraftwerk is way overdue for nomination and for induction. Leaving Kraftwerk out (after they pioneered and correctly predicted what music would become three decades early) would be like saying Nostradamus did not deserve to be in the predictor Hall Of Fame. 

Kraftwerk was sampled only slightly less in hip-hop than James Brown and in Japan they have actual Holograms that are music stars now. Kraftwerk's influence can be heard in every single popular producer and "artist" in the top 40 today.

I have also made the case for Joy Division, there are few bands that are as relevant today as they were decades ago. Just last year, one of the best episodes of one of the best shows on television concluded with a shattering cover of a Joy Division song ("She's Lost Control," The Raveonettes and Trentemoller on Halt and Catch Fire). 

Sonic Youth should be in the Hall of Fame before Smashing Pumpkins. Radiohead should be in the Hall of Fame before Smashing Pumpkins. The Pixies should be in the Hall Of Fame before Smashing Pumpkins. And it astounds me that DEVO is not in the Hall of Fame.

Obviously, I also feel a number of punk bands should get consideration before Smashing Pumpkins.

This is not to say SP should not ever be inducted but they certainly should not be considered for induction yet.

Billy's Argument

Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream

Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream

So, Billy said two things in the article I saw, first:

"If it's a meritocracy, I think my band belongs there because we are one of the prime bands of our era and we continue to be a top band."


"I'm only speaking as a fan, but it's hard to trust the institution as a meritocracy when you have people in there who weren't very influential, didn't sell a lot of records, but because someone somewhere was a fan, they're in."

Right. First, influence and sales are entirely different things.

Ramones had MASSIVE influence but no sales (sigh).

Many of the most popular artists today, I contend, have no memorable songs. In ten years nobody will be able to remember the name of one song they produced. But, I bet a ton of people remember songs by virtually every artist in the Hall of Fame (even if they don't know it).

Influence is also felt through ages of bands and ages of music. I hear Joy Division in bands all the time, doesn't mean that they sold a billion records. 

Bad Brains influenced TONS of people and are really important, but maybe will never be remembered for it.

Anecdotal Evidence

I was lucky enough to make it to Lolapalooza in 1994 twice. Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest, George Clinton, L7, The Pharcyde,  The Flaming Lips (Should also be in the mix for HOF), The Breeders, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Guided by Voices, and Smashing Pumpkins.

I was present as Smashing Pumpkins closed the show after Beastie Boys in Kansas City and watched half the crowd leave when they took the stage (100% true). I was present as Smashing Pumpkins played second to last in Phoenix and the crowd was eerily quiet during the entire set. This was at the APEX of SP popularity (Post Siamese Dream if I remember correctly).

I know for a fact that they were not even on the top 10 list of the bands I saw at Lollapalooza that year. Totally anecdotal evidence but those were MASSIVE crowds and if you go by merit, nobody was wild about Smashing Pumpkins at those two shows.

I really don't mean to throw that much shade at BC. To be totally fair, they had an amazing run in the 90's and they were one of the "Top Bands" of that period. But, let's be honest, very few of the 90's bands (including many who were "Topper" than Smashing Pumpkins) haven't been nominated or inducted yet.

I am mostly making this argument because I, like Billy, have  little faith in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee. I would not put it past them to mistake press coverage for support.

I would  absolutely support Smashing Pumpkins for inclusion but only after a list of (IMHO) more deserving bands get inducted. 

Anyway, doesn't it probably say something that Billy is the one making his own case?

What do you think about Billy Corgan's case for inclusion? Who do you feel deserves induction in the next class? Let me know what you think, leave a comment (and if you like it Share It)!