Sometimes life works in mysterious ways. Way back in 1992, a year after the Smashing Pumpkins released their debut record Gish, the band was playing a show in Detroit that ended tragically. Shortly after they finished, some mysterious person walked away with frontman Billy Corgan’s guitar. But 27 years later, Corgan was finally reunited with the guitar this week.
He found it in the possession of one Beth James, who lives in Flushing, Mich. She had bought the guitar at a Detroit yard sale because it looked cool, even though neither she nor her daughters actually play guitar. Recently, she thought about selling it, and a friend helped alert her to its history.
“I really wanted a hot tub, frankly, and my husband wouldn’t buy me one, so I said, ‘Well I’m gonna sell some of this stuff,’” James told Rolling Stone. “People always said it was probably worth some money. I didn’t know if it is or not and then I got the article about it.”
After her friend sent her an article suggesting it might be Corgan’s long-lost guitar, James tried messaging the musician on Facebook but never heard back. Then a friend connected her to Alex Heiche, founder of Sound Royalties, who coordinated her meet-up with Corgan.
“If you look at Billy, he’s very stoic,” Heiche told Rolling Stone. “He doesn’t give a lot of facial expressions. But he looked down, and as she opened the case, he looked at it for a second and froze. Everybody was dead silent. And he goes, ‘That’s it.’”
As Corgan explained to Rolling Stone, the guitar’s unique properties had a powerful influence on the sound of Gish, and affected Corgan’s playing style. After its disappearance, he had to buy new guitars, which went on to define the sound of iconic Smashing Pumpkins albums like Siamese Dream and Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Now, the guitar comes back into Corgan’s life as he’s working on a guitar-driven follow-up to Smashing Pumpkins’ 2018 album Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun. It feels a bit like it returned to Corgan at the exact moment it was needed.
“This guitar has a certain magical mystery to it,” Corgan told Rolling Stone. “It changed the fortune of my life. So that’s why I felt it would come back to me. It was like the talisman or something, like in Lord of the Rings. It was meant to come back to me.”
Read the full article at Rolling Stone.