During a recent interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan explained how he felt when Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain died in 1994.
Explaining that he felt like he had lost his “greatest opponent,” Corgan expressed that Cobain’s success challenged Smashing Pumpkins to continuously improve.
“When Kurt died, I cried because I lost my greatest opponent,” Corgan told the host. “I want to beat the best. I don’t want to win the championship because it’s just me and a bunch of jabronis — to use a wrestling term.”
“It’s like Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest sports competitor I’ll ever see in my lifetime,” he added.
Smashing Pumpkins released their debut LP Gish in 1991, but its success was soon overshadowed by the release of Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind album, which arrived a few months later.
The rivalry continued, when Smashing Pumpkins released their breakthrough album Siamese Dream in July 1993, shortly before Nirvana unveiled In Utero. Smashing Pumpkins didn’t earn a No. 1 album until six months after Cobain’s death, when they released Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in 1995.
In 2014, Corgan said that he and Cobain “didn’t necessarily get along,” but both he and the Nirvana frontman were the two best writers of their generation, placing “everybody else a distant third.”
“I like to think a lot of the crap music that followed wouldn’t have existed if he had been around to criticize it,” Corgan added. “Because he had the moral standing to slay generations with a strike of the pen.”
(Photo: Jonathan Weiner)
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