Today In Chicago Rock History: Smashing Pumpkins At #1 And Happy Birthday Jim Peterik!


On this day in 1995, Smashing Pumpkins' ambitious double-CD Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness rocketed to the #1 spot on the U.S. album charts.  One can't help but wonder, if you'd asked Billy Corgan then where he saw himself in twenty years, if being the owner of his own wrestling league and tea shop would have been in his plans.

Probably not.  After all, the Pumpkins were literally the biggest band in the world.  I'm talking Taylor Swift big.  They were selling out major arenas, their videos were all over VH1 and MTV (when they bothered to play music videos, of course), and the album was soaring into the Top 10 in nine countries.  Nine countries!

Whether you liked Corgan or not, you had to give it to the guy for being about as ambitious as anyone could be coming off of the success of Siamese Dream (which reached #10) and Pisces Iscariot (the b-sides and rarities collection that hit #4).  After all, he'd cut Siamese Dream mostly by himself and his bandmates had been none too happy about it.  This time around, they had an actual hand in the creative process and the results hadn't sucked.

Anyone who listens to the album in its entirety will experience the full breadth of Corgan's talents; from the ethereal simplicity of "1979" to the angsty bombast of "Bullet With Butterfly Wings", but what lies beyond the chosen singles is just as remarkable.  "Jellybelly", "Fuck You (Ode To No One)", and "Thirty-Three", for example, could and should have been monster hits on their own.  The latter track was released as a single, but had the unfortunate luck of coming out after the firing of Jimmy Chamberlin and the death of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin.

In hindsight, perhaps the sheer amount of bad-assery contained within this album over-saturated the band's fan base.  Too much of anything, even great music, can make anyone push the plate away after awhile, so to speak.  Maybe it would have been better to release the first ten songs that the band finished and leave it at that, but, then again,..


Is there a nicer guy in rock & roll than the purple-haired Jim Peterik?  If so, I have yet to meet him. The affable Chicago institution got his start as the singer and guitarist in Ides of March, who were signed to Warner Brothers to capitalize on the horn-driven success of bands like Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Their biggest single, "Vehicle", stomped its way into the Top 10, purported to be the fastest-selling single in the history of Warner Brothers Records at the time.  The rest of the world may have presumed it was the band's first single, but, in truth, they'd been scoring regional hits in and around the Chicago area since 1966.

The success of "Vehicle" proved to be their undoing, however, as subsequent albums failed to even dent the national charts.  By '73, the band had called it a day.

He would form The Jim Peterik Band, who recorded one album for Epic Records in 1976, before updating the band's sound and changing the name to Survivor in '78.  Two albums followed that saw the band growing into the sound that would take the world by storm in 1982 when "Eye Of The Tiger"; a song written at the request of Sylvester Stallone after he had taken a liking to the band's "Poor Man's Son".

The song's placement in the film Rock III propelled it to #1 for six weeks and into the nationa's consciousness, where it remains to this day.

Since then, Peterik has gone on to write and record with the likes of .38 Special, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, as well as mentoring young musicians and songwriters as much as his schedule will allow.  Such endeavors have led to projects like Pride of Lions with singer Toby Hitchcock.

His main gig, however, remains Ides Of March, who are currently in the midst of a 50th anniversary tour that hits the area on November 15 (Bloomington, IL) and December 13 (St. Charles, IL).

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