Billy Corgan clarifies comment calling Kurt Cobain his ‘greatest opponent’: “It’s just good competition”

“Why is it a bad thing to say I wish he was still here, ’cause I wanna compete against him?”

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins

Image: Jeff Kravitz / Roberto Ricciuti / Getty Images

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Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan has addressed the alleged backlash he’s received following his recent comments calling Kurt Cobain his “greatest opponent”.

Earlier this year, Corgan told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe that the Nirvana frontman “was the most talented guy of our generation,” adding that “When Kurt died, I cried because I lost my greatest opponent. I want to beat the best. I don’t want to win the championship because it’s just me and a bunch of Jabronis, to use a wrestling term.”

Addressing those comments on the Q101 Morning Crew podcast, Corgan says that “what I was trying to say was Kurt was this incredible artist. And when he was alive and we were both in our, whatever, our mid-20s, well, both bands were competing for the same spot. So, people take that and they suddenly turn it into something that it isn’t.”

“I think if we look back now, we can see that amongst the ’90s bands, the Pumpkins and Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots, there were a lot of bands competing for the top spot,” he adds. “There’s nothing wrong with that. People try to turn it into this weird thing, like somehow it was something dark. No — it’s just good competition.”

The singer continues: “I’ve been doing these interviews saying Kurt was by far the most talented person of our generation. So I’m waving the white flag and saying he won in the talent pool. But I dare put myself in the conversation. So then people get mad about that, like I don’t have any right. But my band was one of the biggest bands of the era, and still a big band. I’m not some delusional guy up in Highland Park talking about what happened 30 years ago — only. Didn’t we just play the United Center and sell it out?”

“It’s this weird thing where people wanna play this weird game with what you have a right to say and not say. I think I have every right, knowing everybody involved, having played with Nirvana, knowing Kurt a little bit personally. I’ve been very transparent about what it was and what it wasn’t. And somehow it gets turned into this thing that it’s like a rivalry. There’s no rivalry; it’s just all love and respect.”

Once again clarifying his opinion on Kurt and his legacy, Corgan says, “Here’s the one thing I would say, and I’m requoting myself: I wish Kurt was still alive, because I want to compete against the best, and he was the best. So how’s that a rivalry, if I want the guy that I respected to still be here writing great songs? It’s such a strange thing to say. Why would people twist that?”

“We lost a lot of great music and a lot of great inspiration that Kurt provided for a lot of people when he died. So why is it a bad thing to say I wish he was still here, ’cause I wanna compete against him? But people would twist that even. There’s no hate there. Only respect. Or awe.”


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