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Billy Corgan '75 'Gish Stratocaster'

Serial# 553682

Billy Corgan '75 'Gish Stratocaster'

Most associated with:

Billy Corgan
Born 17 March 1967

Current Ownership:

Billy Corgan

Previous Ownership:

Jimmy Chamberlain
Billy Corgan
Stolen lost for 27 years
Female, Michigan

This guitar is a 1975 CBS-era Strat.

Story goes that this guitar was owned first by Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins Drummer) who sold it to Billy Corgan in 1990-ish

Image from RolligStone magazine

Corgan was not overly fond of the color that did not match up to his goth look at the time, so he decided to work it up with a little paint after a few concerts with it. He took some darker paint and used a stamp- technique and jabbed at it to give it its artistic look of green blue and red color mainly. He eventually used it to record Smashing Pumpkins first album Gish in 1991. Hence it got the Gish Stratocaster" nickname.. Why just.. Gish, why not other.. well it got Stolen the year after and it never appeared on other Pumpkins albums ever again.


The guitar went with Corgan to St. Andrews Hall in Detroit for a one-off show in June 1992. They did the concert and left for the dressing room. Immediately after, a roadie came in and told Billy "Someone walked out the backdoor with your guitar"

Corgan was devastated and filed the theft to the police and put out a $10.000 reward with no result. Some years later he bumped it to $20.000 but still nothing. But he never lost hope hoping he will find it again.. He did however get several tips during the search that resulted in nothing but dead ends.

The guitar was gone for almost 27 years until 2019 when Corgan got a call from a Beth James in Flushing, Michigan saying that she might have his guitar. She had bought the guitar for $200 a decade earlier at a estate sale and had stowed it away in the basement. She invited Corgan over to take a look at it. He got in touch with a guitar broker called Alex Heiche who went there, took photos and sent them to Corgan asking if the guitar is "the one". Corgan was not sure, he had to go over and inspect it in person.

He went over and had a look at it, and he found many identifying marks he remembered and it was indeed the correct one.

Finally reunited again, he gave the instrument to guitar tech Geoff Benge in Chicago to fix it up. Benge dated the guitar to 1975, but the serial on the neckplate was to say otherwise. It was assembled at Fender in a time when CBS was in turmoil. They had a lack of parts and inventory and took whatever they had to finish their products. Thus the neckplate was sort of random or leftover stock. The pickups are stamped 1975 but the plate serial lands it at 1976. Benge got a "Fix it but change nothing" order from Corgan. The whole story of the Fix up you can read HERE

So will Corgan record more material with the Gish Strat?.. probably. He really loved that guitar back then and i bet he still does.

LINKS: Rolling Stone | MusicRadar |


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