Billy Corgan Reunited with Stolen ‘Gish’-Era Strat

The guitar, essential to the early Smashing Pumpkins sound, was taken 27 years ago.
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Billy Corgan has been reunited with the Seventies-era Fender Stratocaster he used to record the Smashing Pumpkins’ 1991 debut album, Gish

A key part of the band’s early sound, the guitar—which was decorated by Corgan with a custom psychedelic design—was stolen in June 1992 after a Pumpkins gig at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit.

According to a Rolling Stone report though, a woman named Beth James living in Flushing, Michigan, had the beloved instrument in her basement for a decade or so, after purchasing it at a local yard sale for $200. After a friend notified her that the instrument might in fact belong to the Smashing Pumpkins frontman, she began attempting to contact the band via various channels, and eventually got the guitar back to him.

“God bless her," Corgan said to Rolling Stone. "It falls under the ‘miracles can happen’ category. Even for a cynic like me.”

Corgan initially bought the Strat, which he believes to be a 1974 model, from Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain around 1989 or 1990. “It instantly changed the way the band sounded and the way I played,” he said. “When it was stolen, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, gee, my guitar just got stolen.’ It was the guitar that affected the way I played and I was heavily identified with the guitar.”

Now that he has it back, Corgan says he plans to use it on the follow-up to the band’s 2018 reunion album, Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun.

“I’m literally gonna take it somewhere, and get it fixed up,” he added. “And I’ll start using it. It’s a really valuable guitar to me. And I mean, the timing is sort of strange, and auspicious, and so I take it as a sign that it’s supposed to be part of what we’re doing.”

Check out a pic of the recovered Strat below.