Billy Corgan has feuded with everyone from Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox to Pavement to Anderson Cooper. To Smashing Pumpkins fans, however, his most notable public spat is an ongoing one with bassist D’arcy Wretzky, which has called into question the potential of a rumored reunion tour featuring the band’s original lineup. The drama between Corgan and Wretzky dates back to 1999, when Corgan kicked Wretzky out of the band. In a Livejournal post, Corgan later explained that his “distrust of her in the studio coupled with her apparent slow descent into insanity and/or drugs (take your pick)” led to their eventual parting of ways. The band went on to record Machina/The Machines of God largely without her, with Corgan filling in on bass.
Everything seemed to have been resolved in 2016, when Corgan said in a Facebook Live video that he had “been in communication with D’arcy for the first time in 16 or 17 years, it’s awesome to have my friend back.” He also cautiously hinted at a reunion, while making clear that the band was “not rushing to something, we have to repair some things between us.”
Nearly two years and one Billy Corgan solo album later, a reunion now seems imminent, but according to Wretzky, she will not be taking part. What follows is a timeline of the reignited feud between Wretzky and Corgan, featuring text messages, passive aggressive Instagram posts, and the dashed hopes of all Smashing Pumpkins fans who hope to one day see the 1988 lineup take the stage again.
January 16, 2018 — Billy Corgan teases Smashing Pumpkins reunion, minus Wretzky
Billy Corgan shares an ambiguous Instagram photo featuring himself with original Smashing Pumpkins members James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin, fueling speculation that the band was indeed recording new music with the original lineup. Conspicuously absent? D’arcy Wretzky.
January 21, 2018 — Wretzky confirms Smashing Pumpkins reunion, which she says will happen without her
Wretzky confirms to rock website BlastEcho that a Smashing Pumpkins reunion is indeed happening, but without her participation: “My apologies to all of the Smashing Pumpkins fans out there who are excited about this oncoming reunion tour of the original members of the band. I know this is a huge disappointment for me, as well, but it’s not going to happen [with me],” she says. She also adds that the band decided to go with a different bass player for the reunion tour, which she says will feature Corgan, Iha, and Chamberlin and begin in July.
February 5, 2018 — Corgan seems to write Wretzky out of Machina‘s production in Instagram post
Billy Corgan posts another cryptic Instagram post addressing rumors that latter-day Pumpkin Jeff Schroeder would be playing bass on any would-be reunion albums, spurred from leaked photos of what appeared to be a Smashing Pumpkins photoshoot in Los Angeles. In addition to cheekily avoiding the question of exactly who would be playing bass on new Pumpkins material, Corgan doesn’t miss an opportunity to take a swipe at Wretzky, referring to her as a “flaxen Saxxon” and insinuating that she did not play bass on Machina.
February 11, 2018 — Wretzky says Billy Corgan offered, then rescinded, band contract
A few days after the Smashing Pumpkins website was updated with a mysterious countdown clock, Wretzky expands upon her original statements about her exclusion to BlastEcho. She mentions several text messages from Corgan. One reportedly says Iha was also not present for studio sessions, and another says that Rick Rubin–who was previously rumored to be producing the new Smashing Pumpkins album–would only be “involved a little but not the whole thing.” She also claimed that Corgan extended a contract offer to her, Iha, and Chamberlin, which was agreed upon by all parties before Wretzky’s offer was revoked a month later. Although she was not certain if the contract remained in place for Iha and Chamberlin, she was under the impression that it did.
February 12, 2018 — Smashing Pumpkins release official statement
Smashing Pumpkins release an official response to Wretzky’s claims that she was offered a contract to rejoin the band that was later revoked. The statement reads: “To that, James Iha, Jimmy Chamberlin, and William Corgan haven’t played a show with D’arcy Wretzky for over 18 years. But it’s not for a lack of trying. For despite reports, Ms. Wretzky has repeatedly been invited out to play with the group, participate in demo sessions, or at the very least, meet face-to-face, and in each and every instance she always deferred. We wish her all the best, and look forward to reconnecting with you all very soon.”
February 13, 2018 — Wretzky releases Corgan texts
The next day, Wretzky shares screenshots of her alleged texts with Corgan, in which he gives updates on the new record (“We’ve got 13 demos so far”) and seems to offer her some form of involvement with the reunion (“…we want you involved in the tour however you’d like to be involved. I think it will mean A LOT to fans if you are up onstage every night”). After Wretzky gives an update on a shoulder injury, which she says will be “healed in 4-6 weeks,” Corgan seems to retreat from his offer, saying “we also have to balance the forces at play. I know you don’t agree, nor do you have to.” He adds that “there is no room for error” on the tour.
From there, things really begin to disintegrate. Corgan compares Wretzky’s potential role to that of original Guns N’ Roses drummer Stephen Adler on their “Not In This Lifetime” tour, when the drummer only appeared on a few live songs. In the next screenshot, Wretzky says she is “pissed off” and that Corgan is “throwing something away that is so precious…and you know I’m not talking about me.” Corgan replies with the biting remark, “The answer is you deserve to be on a t shirt if someone wants to buy it… But if you don’t want to be on a t-shirt then the kids are happy to buy something else.”
And that brings us up to date. Alternative Nation says they will be running the “first in-depth interview with D’arcy in the last 20 years” sometime Tuesday (February 13) or Wednesday (February 14). Based on his most recent Instagram posts, Corgan appears to be enjoying the simple pleasures of Disneyland with his son, unfazed by the feud.
February 14, 2018: Wretzky calls Corgan’s reunion claims a “complete lie”
In a new interview with Alternative Nation, Wretzky denies Corgan’s public claims that he reached out to Wretzky multiple times to discuss a possible reunion, calling them a “complete lie” and adding that she only heard about the 2005 Pumpkins reunion (featuring Corgan and Chamberlin) on the news, after the fact. She also adds that the band kept most of her original bass recordings for Machina/The Machines of God, counter to Corgan’s claims that James Iha played most of the bass parts for that record.
February 15, 2018: Smashing Pumpkins announce reunion tour without Wretzky
And there you have it.