Billy Corgan Reveals Why He Regrets ‘Contributing’ To Chris Cornell’s ‘Unhappiness’

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Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was asked in a new SF Weekly interview about the deaths of many alternative rock legends.

You’re a member of a shrinking club, as so many of your alt-rock contemporaries — Kurt Cobain, Scott Weiland, Layne Staley, Bradley Nowell, Shannon Hoon, and, most recently, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, have died of accidental overdoses or taken their own lives. Do you have any insight into this troubling trend?

“I wish I had more answers and I’d done more. I knew Chris, and we had a bit of a falling out and were never able to patch that up. I wish I hadn’t contributed in even the most miniscule way to his unhappiness. I wish I’d have been a force for encouragement, because he influenced me, and I looked up to him. Chester was obviously one of the best rock singers ever, and it was such a great honor when he covered ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings.’ It’s haunting to think all this talent is gone. That’s a lot of memory, a lot of music, a lot of we should be sitting on the lawn when we’re 60, singing “Black Hole Sun” together with the guy who wrote it. Those are shared tragedies.

As far as why, I don’t think it’s as simple as we’re cursed as a generation. But we were the children of Baby Boomers, the generation that had the pill and decided they didn’t want kids. We were the latchkey kids, who grew up on Gilligan’s Island because there was no babysitter. Maybe that creates some sorrow or something that’s deeper than we even recognize.”