Billy Corgan may be known by modern-day tweens as a borderline weirdo who dates the likes of Jessica Simpson, maintains an inter-spiritual website, and does stuff on Twitter (but, hey, what sentient being doesn’t do that, from a tween’s point of view?), yet back in the ’90s, Corgan was renowned for making great music as the lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins — a band that is currently in the process of releasing an 11-EP magnum opus called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. Today is Corgan’s 44th birthday, and to both celebrate and educate we bring you 44 facts about his life.
1. In the early ’80s, while still in high school, Corgan wrote music criticism for his school’s newspaper. He accurately predicted that the next big bands would be U2, REM, and Metallica.
2. Corgan once said, “I got the feeling that [my dad] didn’t want me to play guitar. He told me later, he didn’t think I’d have the dedication and perseverance.”
3. While playing a set plagued with technical trouble at the Reading Festival, a frustrated Corgan broke his guitar and threw it into the crowd. The guitar ended up hitting Smashing Pumpkins’s record company president in the head.
4. As a youth, Corgan battled depression and cut himself to deal with the pain.
5. Corgan often frustrated bandmates James Iha and D’arcy Wretzky by recording their parts for upcoming albums himself.
6. During an interview with Pitchfork, Corgan said, “It’s hard to realize you can have any kind of relationship with God you want… and so I now have a punk rock relationship with God.”
7. On Corgan’s LiveJournal, he wrote that while young he once made out with a woman who turned out to be a man and was deeply embarrassed about the hickey he received during the brief encounter.
8. When the Smashing Pumpkins first started, Corgan was the bass player.
9. Corgan once worked at a Chinese restaurant as the dishwasher.
10. For about a year in the late ’80s, the Smashing Pumpkins consisted solely of Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha, and a drum machine.
11. When discussing guitar technique, Corgan once said, “One of the most genius things my dad ever told me was that I should never learn to play like anybody else.”
12. The song “Spaceboy” from Siamese Dream is about Corgan’s younger half-brother, Jesse Corgan, who’s physically disabled.
13. Corgan named one of his earlier bands The Marked since both he and the drummer, Ron Roesing, had port-wine stains.
14. Corgan is an avid Chicago Cubs fan.
15. While on tour, Corgan often took refuge in food to control his anxieties.
16. Corgan, having never enrolled in college, once visited a friend at the University of Illinois and said of the experience, “this is high school times ten… [and] I hated high school.”
17. While young, two bands that heavily influenced Corgan’s musical taste after watching them live were the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bad Brains.
18. In December 2008, Corgan told a reporter he ended the Smashing Pumpkins in 2000 because guitarist James Iha was “driving me out of my mind. He was so negative. The guy literally drove me insane.”
19. “It could have been any vegetable,” Corgan once said when asked about the origin of his band’s name.
20. Corgan named the song “Tristessa” after the novella by Jack Kerouac.
21. For a time, Corgan lived in a parking garage.
22. In 2009, 19-year-old Mike Byrne of Portland replaced Jimmy Chamberlin as drummer for the reformed Smashing Pumpkins.
23. In 1993, Corgan said, “We’ve graduated now from [being called] ‘the next Jane’s Addiction’ to ‘the next Nirvana,’ now we’re ‘the next Pearl Jam.'”
24. Corgan claims his iconic Zero T-shirt symbolizes nothing more than his own lack of style.
25. Corgan is quoted as saying, “The deeper I get into my life as a musician, I’m discovering that it becomes less and less about other people, and more about what I want to do. And that’s a good place to be.”
26. When recording Gish , Corgan at first wanted the album to capture the energy of the band’s live performance, but soon decided on a more polished sound. He stated: “If you want to see us fuck around, see us live.”
27. One of Corgan’s favorite artists is Salvador Dalí.
28. Corgan attended therapy for depression and anxiety while the Smashing Pumpkins were putting out their first two albums.
29. While touring for Adore , the Smashing Pumpkins donated all of their ticket sales to local charities.
30. Corgan has stated that Smashing Pumpkins’ albums are 97% “just Billy and Jimmy.”
31. Corgan’s father, William Patrick Corgan Sr., plays guitar on the track “The Last Song.”
32. From the age of eight to 28, Corgan did not enter a church. He once said, “I didn’t find Jesus. He’s been there the whole time.”
33. Corgan claims the first true Smashing Pumpkins song is “I Am One.”
34. Corgan once said, “I want our recordings to be perfect. An album is a permanent work of art, and to me, nothing should detract from that.”
35. Growing up, Corgan was a self-confessed loner who collected baseball cards.
36. Corgan first met future-Smashing Pumpkins bassist, D’Arcy Wretzky, outside a nightclub when the two got into a heated debate about whether the Dan Reed Network was a good band or not.
37. After his earlier band, The Marked, failed to make it big in Florida, Corgan returned to his father’s house in Chicago where he remained “holed up in my room for about two years.”
38. Corgan’s height is 6’4″.
39. Corgan wrote the song “Forget It” for the Nicolas Cage film National Treasure.
40. In their 13-year career, not counting their post-reunion years, the Smashing Pumpkins canceled only four shows.
41. When Corgan was 15, he met Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook in a restaurant, and told Hook he was going to start a band.
42. Corgan’s father was a jazz/blues guitarist who spent a lot of time touring across America. When he was off the road, other musicians often came to hangout at the Corgan home.
43. For a time in 2006, Corgan lived with Courtney Love and her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, in Love’s Hollywood mansion. Apparently Corgan had a wing to himself.
44. Corgan is a fan of professional wrestling, and a self-described “wrestlemaniac.”