Best Of '99: Bassist D'Arcy Quits Smashing Pumpkins

Departure of one of the rock band's two founding members announced in terse statement; no replacement named.

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Thursday, Sept. 9.]

Just six months after prodigal drummer Jimmy Chamberlin returned to the

group, the Smashing Pumpkins announced Thursday (Sept. 9) that bassist

D'Arcy has quit.

In a terse statement headlined "D'Arcy's Gone!" the band said, "D'Arcy

has left the Smashing Pumpkins. The band's new album is finished and

will be released February 15, 2000, by Virgin Records. The Smashing

Pumpkins will continue as a band and will tour in support of the new

record."

A spokesperson for the group could not be reached for further comment at

press time.

No reason was offered for the departure of the 31-year-old bassist, born

D'Arcy Wretzky. She was one of the founding members of the Chicago band,

which is fronted by singer/guitarist Billy Corgan and also includes

guitarist James Iha. No replacement was named.

When the Smashing Pumpkins formed in Chicago in 1989, the band consisted

solely of Corgan and D'Arcy, who played along with a drum machine. But

the bassist — born in South Haven, Mich. — has always taken a

back seat in creative terms to Corgan, who wrote most of the band's songs.

D'Arcy has played on all of the Pumpkins' recordings. Their most recent

album was Adore (1998), a low-key, electronic-influenced work that

featured the song "Ava Adore" (RealAudio

excerpt).

Last month, Corgan blanched at a question echoing long-standing suggestions

that he was not only the creative force behind the multiplatinum group,

but also the sole musical force behind its recordings.

"That stereotype really diminishes the role that the other three members

of the band have played in forging the sound that is this emotional,

melodramatic rock band," Corgan said, speaking in connection with the

release of his score for the upcoming film "Stigmata."

"If I played with three other people, that wouldn't have been the sound,"

he continued. "There's something about the four characters coming

together that created that sound. I can't take credit for all that."

Corgan said the return of Chamberlin — who was ousted following his

role in the fatal overdose of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin in

July 1996 — had boosted the band's sound on an April club tour,

taking it back to its previous heft.

"When Jimmy left, we weren't that anymore, so we didn't try to be,"

Corgan said of the rampaging, over-the-top rock version of the group.

"Then Jimmy comes back and we literally went right back to where we left

off because it has got something to do with the four people."

The bald-headed bandleader drew a sharp division between his own group's

interactions and those of what he saw as the hired-gun members of groups

such as industrial-rockers Nine Inch Nails.

"When you get right down to it," Corgan said, "what's the difference

between me and [NIN leader] Trent Reznor or somebody else who leads a

unit? Trent has made no bones about being the guy in his deal.

He's rotated an ever-changing cast of characters. The difference is we've

stayed together. It's just a difference in people's perceptions of what

is copacetic, I guess.

"I know people are very romantic with the idea of how a band works, and

they want to believe that everyone stays up till 4 a.m. smoking pot and

jamming. But I don't really think that's really the case in anybody's

band.

"Suffice to say," Corgan continued, "I'm really excited and I feel really

good that we've managed to pull it together to make the Pumpkins what

the Pumpkins are supposed to be."