Jimmy Chamberlin

Jimmy Chamberlin

Infobox musical artist
Name = Jimmy Chamberlin

Img_capt = Chamberlin on August 24, 2005 at Carling Academy Islington, London, England.
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = James Joseph Chamberlin
Alias =
Born = birth date and age|mf=yes|1964|6|10 Joliet, Illinois, USA
Died =
Instrument = Drums, Percussion, Guitar
Genre = Alternative rock, jazz fusion
Occupation = Drummer, Songwriter, Producer
Years_active = 1988–Present
Label = Caroline, Virgin, Reprise, Sanctuary, TVT, Spitfire
Associated_acts = The Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, Jimmy Chamberlin Complex,
The Last Hard Men, Starchildren
URL = [http://www.jimmychamberlin.com/ jimmychamberlin.com]
Notable_instruments =

Jimmy Chamberlin (born June 10, 1964) is an American drummer, songwriter and producer. He may be best known as the drummer for the alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. After a drug-related incident with touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin in 1996, Chamberlin was fired from the band and joined The Last Hard Men, but rejoined the Pumpkins in late 1998. Following the 2000 breakup of the band, Chamberlin joined Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan in the supergroup Zwan and also formed his own group, the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. In 2005 Chamberlin joined Corgan in reforming The Smashing Pumpkins.

Chamberlin, who originally trained as a jazz drummer, cites jazz musicians Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, as well as rock drummers Keith Moon, Ian Paice and John Bonham as major influences on his technique. While he is known as "one of the most powerful drummers in rock," [Rees, Paul. "Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist". "Q" #253. August 2007.] he primarily strives for emotionally communicative playing. [cite interview | last = Chamberlin| first = Jimmy| title = Smashing Pumpkins Rockumentary| program = MTV | date = 1995-10-17] In 2008, Gigwise named Chamberlin the #5 drummer of all time. [ [http://www.gigwise.com/article?id=43499&


Early life

James Chamberlin was born on June 10, 1964 in city-state|Joliet|Illinois, one of six children." [http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/6203/page28.html Jimmy Chamberlin Interview] ," "Modern Drummer", January 1994.] His father and his older brother Paul were both active in local jazz bands, playing clarinet and drums respectively.cite web | url=http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Jimmy_Chamberlin.html | title=Drummerworld: Jimmy Chamberlin | accessdate=2007-09-06 | publisher=Drummerworld.com] Chamberlin's early musical training was primarily as a jazz drummer under the instruction of future Yanni drummer, Charlie Adams, although he was also taught by several other teachers and learned Latin, Brazilian, and big band drumming techniques.cite web | url=http://wc02.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:hvfpxqw5ldse~T1 | title=Jimmy Chamberlin > Biography | accessdate=2007-09-06 | author=Bekkala, Steve | publisher=Allmusic]

Chamberlin left home at age 15cite web| url=http://blamo.org/newsarchive.php?id=1478| author=Mundy, Chris| title=Strange Fruit: Success Has Come at a High Price for This Chicago Band| publisher="Rolling Stone"| date=1994-04-20| accessdate=2007-09-31] and joined a series of local bands. Although his early music career proved profitable, Chamberlin's father pressured him into going to college, so he spent a year at Northern Illinois University. After three years with the show band JP and the Cats, Chamberlin, wearied by the touring schedule, quit and got a job building custom homes with his brother-in-law. Before long, he joined the Smashing Pumpkins.

In 1994, Chamberlin revealed that he had been estranged from his father for seven years.

The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins were looking for a live drummer to open a show at the Metro, a Chicago club. Chamberlin and Billy Corgan met through a friend of a friend, and Chamberlin expressed cautious interest, later recalling:

So I went out and saw the band - Billy, James, and D'arcy - playing at Avalon with a drum machine. Man, did they sound horrible! They were atrocious. But the thing I noticed was that not only were the song structures good, but Billy's voice had a lot of drive to it, like he was dying to succeed. So I ended up driving from work every Wednesday to rehearse with them.

Corgan had his own concerns:

He was wearing a pink t-shirt, stonewashed jeans, he had a mullet haircut, and he was driving a 280Z, and had yellow drums. We were sort of looking each other in the eye thinking, 'This ain't gonna happen, this is not the guy.' [But] he'd learned all our songs, as only Jimmy can, off the top of his head, and, within one practice, we were ready to play. It was amazing. We just knew right away. He's that good. [cite video
people = Corgan, Billy. (Interview subject)
title = Grateful Swans of Never
medium = Video Documentary
publisher = Lipton, Bart (director)
location = Chicago, IL
date = 2001

Despite Chamberlin making "tons of cash" as a carpenter, he would soon give up his job and move to Chicago to devote himself to the band. Chamberlin was an integral part of the Smashing Pumpkins' first album, 1991's "Gish", on which he was often the only other band member playing on the songs aside from Corgan during the recording process. Soon afterwards Chamberlin developed an addiction to heroin. During the recording of 1993's "Siamese Dream", Chamberlin would often disappear for days at a time while the rest of the band feared for his life. He later said of his drug addiction that "It's pretty textbook [...] Guy makes it in rock band, gets very full of himself, starts thinking he's indestructible, and all of a sudden he destroys himself."McKeough, Kevin. "The Beat Goes On". "Chicago", March 2003.]

Chamberlin's problems with substance abuse came to a head at the peak of the Pumpkins' commercial popularity, during the 1996 supporting tour for "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness". Prior to shows scheduled at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Chamberlin and touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin overdosed on heroin; Melvoin subsequently died, and Chamberlin was kicked out of the band. [cite web| url=http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=c10135f0-c1bc-425c-961a-fd93076178af| author=Errico, Marcus| title=Smashing Pumpkins Drum Out Jimmy Chamberlin| format=http| publisher=Eonline.com| date=1996-07-17| accessdate=2007-02-11] Charged with drug possession, Chamberlin avoided serving jail time by pleading guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct and returning to rehab. In late 1996, he joined The Last Hard Men, led by ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach. The band recorded its one and only album in 1996 and 1997, though its release was delayed until 2001 due to being caught in "major-label development hell." [cite web| url=http://wc06.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:by67mppj9f2o| title=The Last Hard Men| author=Salmon, Jeremy| publisher=Allmusic| accessdate=2007-09-07]

In October 1998, Corgan convened a band meeting where Chamberlin was reinstated as the group's drummer and the band decided to break up after one more album and tour.Kot, Greg. "Pumpkin Seeds," "Guitar World", January 2002.] The band yielded two albums in 2000, "Machina/The Machines of God" and the freely distributed "Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music" before performing a farewell show in Chicago on December 2, 2000.


Chamberlin went on to form Zwan in 2001 with Corgan. Although Chamberlin predicted that "The band's going to be huge," Zwan produced only one album, "Mary Star of the Sea", before disbanding in 2003. Chamberlin's next project Jimmy Chamberlin Complex was formed in 2004, and released its first studio album, "Life Begins Again", in 2005. Chamberlin stated that, with the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, "I just wanted to make music and not really be constrained to making a Zwan or a Pumpkins record."cite web| url=http://www.drummagazine.com/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1068| title=Jimmy Chamberlin Is "Building A Complex"| publisher="Drum!"| accessdate=2007-10-01]

In April 2002, Chamberlin married Lori Wilton. They had a daughter, Audrey Ella, who was born in December of that year. A son, Lucas Merriweather, was born in March 2006.

Revival of the Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan announced at an April 2004 solo performance that he and Chamberlin intended to work together again in the future. After appearing on "Life Begins Again", Corgan announced plans to "renew and revive" the Pumpkins through a full-page advertisement in his hometown's newspaper, the "Chicago Tribune", on June 21, 2005. [Corgan, Billy. "A Message to Chicago from Billy Corgan". "Chicago Tribune", June 21, 2005.] Chamberlin contacted Corgan to accept, and on February 2, 2006, MTV.com reported that he and Corgan had signed a new management deal with the Front Line Management, with a spokesperson confirming they had signed under the name "Smashing Pumpkins". [cite web | author=Harris, Chris| year=2006| title=Smashing Pumpkins Reunion Is Under Way, According To Sources | publisher=MTV.com | url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1523078/20060202/smashing_pumpkins.jhtml?headlines=true | accessmonthday=February 2 | accessyear=2006]

Chamberlin and Corgan, without the other original members, decided to record an album alone. On April 20, 2006 it was officially announced on the band's official website that "The Smashing Pumpkins are currently writing songs for their upcoming album, their first since 1999." [cite web | url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1529202/20060421/smashing_pumpkins.jhtml?headlines=true | title=Smashing Pumpkins Site Says 'It's Official' — Band Has Reunited | accessdate=2007-09-07 | author=Kaufman, Gil| publisher=MTV.com | date=2006-04-21] Their first concert was played in Paris on May 22, 2007, with three new band members. On July 10, the new album, "Zeitgeist", was released.

Chamberlin commented on potential future projects in an interview with "Modern Drummer":

"The Smashing Pumpkins will be going straight into record another record at the end of the current tour..and we may record a new Jimmy Chamberlin Complex record then. Billy Mohler is writing already, and I've met some people I want involved, like Brad Mehldau and producer Jon Brion... I also want to get Alan Pasqua involved... Allan Holdsworth is an option as well."

Musical style and influences

Chamberlin comes from a jazz background, and he notes jazz musicians Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich as influences. He has also been compared to jazz drummer Dennis Chambers for his "quick hands, furious snare rolls, and crackling rimshots." In general, he is one of the few hard rock drummers to combine a driving backbeat with jazz-like flourishes. When asked about his influences in 2007, he responded:

Aside from the obvious—Keith Moon, John Bonham, Ian Paice—I would have to say Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, any of the jazz greats—Gene Krupa, those people. I think, more and more, as I get older, I've developed my own rock style and I tend to pull more stuff from Elvin Jones and Tony now that I can incorporate it into a rock arena and kind of modernize it.cite web | url = http://youtube.com/watch?v=44C9Eh03Mmo | title = Ask A Pumpkin: Billy & Jimmy answer! | publisher = YouTube | accessdate = 2007-09-06]

Other drummers that influenced Chamberlin around the recording of "Zeitgeist" included Bobby Caldwell of Captain Beyond, Lalo Schifrin's "Dirty Harry" soundtrack, Weather Report, and Return to Forever's Lenny White.Micallef, Ken. "The Evolution of Jimmy Chamberlin: Still Smashing!". "Modern Drummer", November 2007.] Corgan influenced Chamberlin's songwriting on The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex album "Life Begins Again", and Ned Ragget of Allmusic said that the record was "a lot like the Smashing Pumpkins [...] there's the same sense of aggro and delicious melancholia on display, more than once suggesting what a version of "Adore" with Chamberlin on drums might have sounded like." [cite web| url=http://wc02.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:dpftxqwsldje| title="Life Begins Again" > Overview| author=Ragget, Ned| publisher=Allmusic| accessdate=2007-10-01]

Chamberlin prefers not to use Pro Tools or click tracks;cite video
people = Baker, Roy Thomas. (Interview subject)
date2 = 2007-10-30
title = Inside the Zeitgeist
medium = DVD
publisher = Reprise Records
] however, he used click tracks on the recording of "Siamese Dream" because he thought his meter during the "Gish" era was too inconsistent.

Bandmate Billy Corgan has said of Chamberlin, "he's up there with Bonham, you know, that level of drummer, who has been able to play a variety of music and have his style impact the way people play drums. That's the hallmark of a great drummer. And, right now, I think, pound for pound, he's the best drummer in the world." [Radio interview with Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin. Mancow - 2008/08/04.]


Chamberlin is currently using a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute kit with 60 (instead of standard 45) degree bearing edges. His kit comprises three snares (5x12, 8x8 and the main snare, his 5.5x14 "Signature" model), five toms (12x14, 8x10, 9x13, and two floor toms - 16x16 and 16x18), a 16x22 bass drum, four crash cymbals (a 15" thin and three customs - 15", 18", and 19"), a 6" splash cymbal, 15" New Beat hi-hats, a 20" China High, a 22" Constantinople medium ride, and a 22" riveted swish knocker. Chamberlin's drumheads are Remo coated Ambassador on snare-side, clear Emperors on tops of toms with clear Ambassadors underneath, with a Powerstoke 3 on the bass drum batter. He uses Zildjian cymbals and Vic Firth 5B sticks. His signature snare drum is popular with other drummers - Chad Smith has been known to use it as a second snare drum.


The Smashing Pumpkins

* 1991: "Gish"
* 1993: "Siamese Dream"
* 1995: "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness"
* 2000: "Machina/The Machines of God"
* 2000: "Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music"
* 2007: "Zeitgeist"

ide projects

* 1998: "The Last Hard Men" (The Last Hard Men) (limited release 1998, reissue 2001)
* 2003: "Mary Star of the Sea" (Zwan)
* 2005: "Life Begins Again" (Jimmy Chamberlin Complex)

Guest appearances

* 1994: "She Knows Everything (remix)" (Medicine)
* 2005: "TheFutureEmbrace" (Billy Corgan) (appears on "DIA")
* 2006: "Gone" (Bill Madden) (appears on "Gone")
* 2007: "Not From Here" (Gannin Arnold) (appears on "Not From Here" and "Get On With It")

Notes and references

External links

* [http://www.jimmychamberlin.com/ Official website]
* [http://billycorgan.livejournal.com Jimmy's Love Letters] –Blogs by Chamberlin about the reformation of The Smashing Pumpkins
* [http://www.smashingpumpkins.com The Smashing Pumpkins]
* [http://www.jimmychamberlincomplex.com/ The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex]

NAME= Chamberlin, Jimmy
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Chamberlin, James Joseph
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Drummer, Songwriter, Producer
DATE OF BIRTH= 1964-6-10
PLACE OF BIRTH=Joliet, Illinois, USA

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