Billy Corgan Once Wrote A Song About David Bowie
via David Bowie / YouTube
To Billy Corgan’s joy, he was able to develop a close friendship with the musician he had idolized since childhood, David Bowie. The leader of The Smashing Pumpkins utilized songwriting as a means of working through his sorrow after Bowie’s death by reflecting on the lessons he’d learned from being friends with the late performer.
Being on the same label in the 1990s led to frequent interactions between the two performers, who eventually became acquaintances. In 1997, for his 50th birthday, Bowie held a concert at Madison Square Garden with a number of celebrity guests. Corgan was honored to be included in the evening’s festivities, and he and Bowie performed a duet of “All the Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople.
Speaking of this experience, Corgan said via Howard Stern: “It was terrifying. We did soundcheck as you do. I thought it was weird because he had me about five feet behind him. I thought it was a bit of a diss. I didn’t understand that. Then I come out for the show, it’s about halfway through the show, and he’s all warmed up and sweating… His voice is warmed up, and it’s that voice. It was mind-blowing to hear him sing for real, standing next to him.”
When the sudden news of Bowie’s death came, Corgan is among the many artists who mourned the loss of the legend. At the time, he penned the opening tune, “Zowie,” for his upcoming second solo album, Ogilala, and it was a homage to his idol. “I was sort of meditating on one side of my brain about David and the times I met him, and I was writing this song about another thing, this kind of self-reflective thing,” Corgan added. For the Smashing Pumpkins singer, it was his way of saying “thank you” to him.