Rare Performances: Pink Floyd and Billy Corgan Live in 1996

Saturday, August 11: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Gilmour performs Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" live with Richard Wright and Billy Corgan

In the fall of 1995, Smashing Pumpkins, the Chicago-based alternative band who cracked the Billboard 200 Top 10 in August 1993 with Siamese Dream, released the anticipated studio follow up, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The sprawling 26-song double album Corgan then referred to as The Wall for Generation X highlighted the lead songwriter's penchant for abstract lyricism and expansive, evocative instrumental arrangements that owed much to the psychedelic rockers who came decades before him.

At the 1996 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a twentysomething Corgan inducted Pink Floyd, with David Gilmour, Nick Mason and the late Richard Wright on hand to accept their awards. "The first album I heard was Dark Side of the Moon, which as we all know is probably one of the best albums of all time," said Corgan, a self-professed "fan" of the band. "I first heard this album in The Wall era, which to me, at my tender age of 14, was too creepy, too intense, too nihilistic – of course, these are all the things I believe in now." 

Hunched over, arms and elbows leaning against the podium to meet the microphone, Corgan spoke candidly about the personal connection he had with Pink Floyd's music. "When I was 17 years old, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, and it was one of the most painful periods of my life, " said Corgan. "And the Pink Floyd song 'Wish You Were Here' seemed to sum up everything that I was feeling. And when I couldn't take what was going on in my life with her dying, I listened to that song over and over, and it still makes me cry, it's such a beautiful song. 

"When you're 17, 'heaven from hell, blues skies from pain' – it means a lot," added Corgan. "And so this why I think I'm here at this particular moment to thank them for everything they've ever done."

The title track of Pink Floyd's 1975 album and a David Gilmour composition, "Wish You Were Here" was among the highlights of an album that most notably explored Floyd founding member Syd Barrett's detachment from his bandmates – and much the world around him – amid speculation of mental illness exacerbated by drug use. In this clip, Corgan joins Wright and Gilmour for a powerfully subdued performance of the song.



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