By Jay Tilles
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jane’s Addiction‘s groundbreaking second album, Nothing’s Shocking, Billy Corgan took to his new website to post a fond memory of his first time opening for the influential L.A. band.
Just before Thanksgiving 1988, Corgan was offered a chance to open for Jane’s Addiction. Unfortunately, the Pumpkins were already booked to play another venue that same night. Could they play both gigs?
Corgan called the club and requested to be moved to another date. His request was denied, forcing him to get creative if he wanted to open for one of rock’s more influential bands of the day. He calculated the times of both gigs and figured that he could open for Jane’s Addiction and still make the other club appearance if he packed up and left the first gig in a hurry — but that would mean he’d miss seeing Jane’s Addiction.
“The gig for the night was completely sold out,” explained Corgan. “The first of a 2 night run; and for us only the 4th with our new drummer; surpassing by probably 8 or 900 people as the biggest crowd I’d ever played before.”
After assessing his band’s dressing room as cramped and noisy, he ventured down to the headliner’s room where the a Jane’s Addiction roadie announced that he would not be permitted, saying “This dressing room is for the band only!” Fortunately, Corgan was mid-conversation with Dave Navarro, who quickly vouched for him. Corgan mentioned his double show predicament, which was overheard by bassist Eric Avery who came to the request with an offer to put Corgan on the list to see their next gig.
Prior to playing the opening slot, Corgan recalled eating at a nearby burger joint, and spiking his soda with rum to ease his nerves. Unfortunately, only an hour later he’d find himself playing to an unimpressed crowd. “My band was too-soft for a crowd eager for power; our new-wavy set a disappointment; a fateful decision indeed,” he lamented.
Corgan took Avery’s offer and returned 48 hours later to witness”one of the greatest shows I’d ever see.”
Despite the lukewarm response to Smashing Pumpkins, the bond created that night between the two bands would thrive more than two decades. Still smitten today by Jane’s Addiction, Corgan penned, “And so too began my 25 years of celebration with a man I consider as family; his wife-muse Ety to be my pixie-like, Chinoise confidant.
“For I’ve stolen from them, dined with them, played with them, cried with them too. My pride in their accomplishments immeasurable…”
Corgan is gearing up in the meantime for not one, but two Smashing Pumpkins albums in 2015. Tommy Lee will contribute drums to the first album, Monuments to an Elegy.