Musician ODs, Allegedly While Using Heroin With Pumpkins Drummer
Jul. 12, 1996
NEW YORK (AP) _ A backup musician with the Smashing Pumpkins died from an apparent overdose Friday after injecting heroin with the group's drummer. The drummer was arrested on a misdemeanor drug possession charge, police said.
A visibly wobbly Jimmy Chamberlin, 32, was released after being given a summons. He was ordered to appear in court Aug. 13.
Earlier, the other band members _ frontman Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy _ also were questioned, but not charged. They, like Chamberlin, left a police station without speaking to reporters.
No other arrests were expected, said police spokesman Mike Collins.
The overdose victim, 34-year-old Jonathan Melvoin, was a veteran keyboard player hired for the current tour of the Smashing Pumpkins, one of the top acts on the alternative rock scene.
The group was in town for two sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden and a show at New Jersey's Meadowlands. Those shows and nine other July concerts scheduled in other cities were postponed.
The band's publicist released a brief statement expressing ``great sadness'' over Melvoin's death. ``Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to his wife and family,'' the statement said. No mention was made of Chamberlin's arrest.
Police said Chamberlin and Melvoin began shooting heroin together at about 11 p.m. at the Regency Hotel, where rooms cost more than $200 a night. At some point, both men passed out.
At about 3:30 a.m., Chamberlin woke and could not rouse Melvoin. He apparently thought Melvoin was unconscious, although police believe that by then he had been dead for some time.
Chamberlin first called the band's security manager, who came to the room and helped try to revive Melvoin by putting him under a shower.
The pair finally called 911, police said. They followed the operator's instructions for resuscitating the musician until paramedics arrived and pronounced Melvoin dead.
Police said they later recovered drug paraphernalia and a small amount of what appeared to be heroin inside the hotel room.
The Smashing Pumpkins are known for the albums ``Gish,'' ``Siamese Dream'' and recent No. 1 double album, ``Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.''
Several years ago, the Chicago-based band considered dropping Chamberlin because of his recurring drug abuse, Rolling Stone and other publications have reported.
But Chamberlin managed to stay clean for a time, and after Nirvana's Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, the Smashing Pumpkins became one of the nation's top alternative bands.
The Pumpkins co-headlined the Lollapalooza tour in 1994 and are currently touring in support of ``Mellon Collie.'' The double CD contains two hours of new music in various styles of punk, psychedelic, heavy-metal and even country.
Despite Chamberlin's past problems, ``Drugs have never been a part of (the band's) personality or reputation,'' said Craig Marks, who wrote a Spin Magazine cover story about the band. ``Their internal conflicts have had more to do with ego, not drugs.''
The music industry has recently been discussing whether to take steps in response to a wave of drug-related casualties, including the death of Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon and the addiction of Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland.
The Stone Temple Pilots had to cancel their summer tour after a judge ordered Weiland into a treatment program.
Music executives have pushed for wider use of the industry's MusiCares program, a 7-year-old network that offers money for musicians to seek physical and mental health care and help for substance abuse.