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I Am One: Corgan now the last Pumpkin standing as longtime drummer Jimmy Chamberlin departs

March 20, 2009 |  5:52 pm

Ladies and gentleman, Jimmy Chamberlin has left the building. According to a press release, the longtime Smashing Pumpkins drummer has “left the group.” Chamberlin joined the Pumpkins in the late 1980s and played on every release save 1998's "Adore." For those keeping track at home, the Smashing Pumpkins are now down to just one original member: chief songwriter and driving creative force  Billy Corgan. Per the same release, Corgan will “continue to write and record as Smashing Pumpkins with plans to head into the studio this spring.” No reason was given for Chamberlin's departure.

The Los Angeles Times' Randy Lewis spent time with Corgan and Chamberlin in December, when the band taped an episode of "The Chris Isaak Hour" in Hollywood.  According to Lewis, the two were getting along well and Chamberlin talked about those who would buy tickets for the group's concerts and then bad-mouth them. "A lot of people just need something to hate," Chamberlin told Lewis, "and they seem to have found it in us."

Regardless of why Chamberlin decided to walk away, the larger question now becomes this: Can there be a Smashing Pumpkins without Chamberlin?  His distinctive, powerful and damn-near perfect drumming helped define the band; arguably more than former member James Iha or original bassist D’arcy Wretzky.

But without Chamberlin, can you really call any forthcoming record a Smashing Pumpkins release?  Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis wondered earlier this week "what's going on in Billy's head," a question many have been attempting to answer lately.  Sure, it's his band, but at a certain point, Corgan must know that older fans retain a strong connection to the original lineup. 

I, for one, wouldn't mind another Corgan solo record (his 2005 solo release, "The Future Embrace," is underrated), as long as it is billed as such. As much as I like the new band, especially Jeff Schroeder's guitar work, to continue on as Smashing Pumpkins without Chamberlin seems wrong somehow. Count on a heated weekend of discussion over at smashingpumpkins.com (some fans are already incredulous, others despondent).

Cry, complain and discuss in the comments below.

*Update/correction: Jim DeRogatis was incorrectly spelled as Jim DeRegatis in an earlier version of this post.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images