CHICAGO — Billy Corgan returned here on Tuesday for his second post-Smashing Pumpkins performance, this time paying tribute to a balding, ball-nosed clown.
Corgan, former Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and three other musicians
played an emotional rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” for “Bozo: 40
Years of Fun,” the final taping of the landmark children’s show that starred local hero Bozo the Clown.
“May God bless and keep you always/ May your wishes all come true/ May you
always do for others/ And let others do for you,” Corgan sang as he glanced
around the studio, eyeing the colorful props and sharing smiles with Wizzo
the Wizard. “May you build a ladder to the stars/ And climb on every rung/
May you stay forever young/ Forever young.”
“I was actually here on my 11th birthday. Nothing has changed,” Corgan said
after the taping. “We were in rehearsal yesterday just watching and …
childhood memories are obscure, but certain things will really trigger them.
Watching the videotape and hearing the music, all these cobwebs were coming
Corgan said the Smashing Pumpkins once talked about coming on the show,
which debuted in Chicago on June 20, 1960. So when he heard they were taping
the final episode, he called the producers to offer his services.
“I said anything you need, I would love to be a part, even if it’s just
introducing a segment,” Corgan explained. “We talked about it and the idea
of a song came up.”
Corgan said he asked a friend for song ideas and he suggested the
Broadway standard “Send in the Clowns.”
“No f—ing way, right?” Corgan said, laughing. “Then he suggested ‘Forever
Young,’ which is one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. At first I said no,
then I thought about it, and it pretty much sums it up, it really does.”
At Corgan’s first post-Pumpkins performance, a benefit show in March that
raised money for homeless children, he performed Dylan’s “Gotta Serve
Somebody” with Marianne Faithfull (see “Billy Corgan, Marianne Faithfull Glide Through Third Waltz” ).
“I’m doing anything to serve Bob,” Corgan joked.
On Tuesday, the singer entered WGN’s Studio 1 about 15 minutes into the
taping, wearing black pants and an electric blue dress shirt. Bozo
introduced him twice as “the singer of one of the world’s most popular bands — Billy Coogan” before he finally got the name right on the third take.
Corgan laughed at Bozo’s mess-ups along with the crowd, which included Billy
Corgan Sr. and Joe Shanahan, owner of the Metro, the legendary music club
where the Pumpkins played their first show.
In the band with Corgan and Chamberlin were former Urge Overkill bassist
Eddie Roeser, Yum Yum guitarist Chris Holmes and keyboardist Linda
Strawberry, whom Corgan described as a solo artist from Utah.
“Bozo: 40 Years of Fun” will air nationally on WGN, which is available on basic cable in most cities, in a special primetime slot on July 14 at 7 p.m. CT. The show features a mix of new segments, including the final Grand Prize Game and final Grand March, along with clips from throughout the show’s 40 years.