It all started around 11 pm at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan on July 11,1996.
Jimmy Chamberlin, The Smashing Pumpkins drummer and Jonathan Melvoin, their touring
keyboardist, were injecting heroin into their veins and drinking alcohol. Then came the
lethal dose, Jonathan Melvoin collapsed, Jimmy fell unconscious as well. According to
police reports, Chamberlin awoke about at 3:30 am on July 12 and tried to rouse Melvoin,
his efforts were unsuccessful. Then Jimmy called the bands' security manager and they
tried to revive Jonathan by putting him in a shower, which also didn't work. They called
911 soon after, paramedics later pronounced Melvoin dead at the seen. Chamberlin was
subsquently arrested and charged with heroin possession. The rest of the band was also
question but not charged. Chamberlin was ordered to appear in court on August 13.
On July 17,1996, a press conference was held and a statement was released by Billy,
Corgan, James Iha, and D'arcy. The statement read as follows: "Today, we are sorry to
to tell our friends and fans that we have decided to sever our relationship with our friend
and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. This may come as shock to some, to others not, but to
us it's devastating. For nine years we have battled with Jimmy's struggles with the
insidious disease of drug and alcohol addiction. It has nearly destroyed who we are and
statement. We have decided to carry on without him and we wish him the best we can
offer. The three of us plan to seek an immediate replacement and to finish the touring we
had started at the beginning of the year. We would like to thank everyone for their well
wishes and support in this very tragic week." Days later on the 31st a toxicology report
confimed that Jonathan Melvoin died from a lethal combination of heroin and alcohol.
In August the Pumpkins announced that their new touring drummer would be Matt
Walker from Filter and their new touring keyboardist would Jimmy Flemion from The Frogs.
Meanwhile Jimmy Chamberlin pleaded not guilty to heroin possession in a New York court
on the 13th. Richard Schaffer, Chamberlin's attorney said that he was trying to get
healthy, that he was doing quite well in rehab. Schaffer said, "I think this was a terrible
tragedy. A friend has passed away, it has affected him in a signifigant way." Chamberlin's
attorney said that he hopes to work something out with the New York District Attorney's
office since Chamberlin has never been arrested or convicted for any crime. He had been
in drug rehab since mid July.
During September in Toronto, D'arcy talked to Betsy Powell of the Canadian Press.
D'arcy said that she had to fight to convince Billy and James to fire Jimmy Chamberlin after
his drug addiction nearly destroyed the band. She said that they gave him so many 'this
is your last chance'. D'arcy said that she has dealt with people like that before and she
knows it's just a cycle. On the other hand, Billy and James had never had to deal with
people like that. She said to her bandmates that there was no way Jimmy was going to
get better in this situation because "In away it was like 'Ok, I'm a rock star, this is what
rock stars do'. "So Chamberlin bought into the rock star 'stuff'." Powell stated. D'arcy said
that he had totally bought into it. "You have to take that away and try and maybe shame
him into getting cleaned up". About a monthe later on the 8th of October, Chamberlin
pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct, avoiding over a year in jail. His
court records would also be sealed. If he didn't complete his rehab or had a slip he would
serve 15 days in jail.
One year later, the wife of the diseased touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin,
Laura Melvoin sued the Pumpkins on behalf of her infant son, who was 4 months old when
his father died. The widow said that they contributed to Jonathan's death by failing to
make sure he stayed of drugs. The Smashing Pumpkins ended up giving her a settlement
in the amount of $10,001. Although this was basically the end to the tragedy that began
in July of 1996, the absence of Jimmy Chamberlin would have some effect on their next