"He was drunk out of his mind and he asked me to make out with him": Billy Corgan on how he became a fan of The Cure... and the first time he met Robert Smith

The Cure / Billy Corgan
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns/David M. Benett/Getty Images)

Billy Corgan has long been a paid-up devotee of The Cure. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman enlisted Robert Smith for a collaboration on his debut solo record TheFutureEmbrace, the pair duetting on a gothy reworking of The Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody. The Pumpkins have also been known to cover their favourite Cure tunes now and then, with guitarist James Iha taking vocal duties on both their stripped-down cover of A Night Like This and a live version of Friday I’m In Love in 2018.

Speaking to this writer a few years ago, Corgan remembered the moment he became a fan. “I was dating a goth girl who was obsessed with The Cure,” he recalled. “She spoke about Robert Smith like he was her friend, which I’ve found through the years is very common with Cure fans, they see Robert as almost like their buddy.”

At the time, The Cure were in their mainstream pop era and having a big hit in In Between Days, Corgan said, so he was surprised when she stuck on their early masterpiece Pornography and he discovered a much darker band that appealed to him more. “It was a totally different vibe,” he said. “She put it on and One Hundred Years, the first thing you hear, you think, ‘this isn’t the band I thought they were, it isn’t the cute cuddly version’, it was this other side of the band. It made a big impression on me. This song is a little bit like Tomorrow Never Knows in that it doesn’t really change, it’s very hypnotic and it’s unusual that songs like that tend to work. I think The Cure is vastly under-appreciated. As idiosyncratic as they are, they have different modalities that are quite successful. Robert is an ace tunesmith, but then they’re totally able to do art-rock and do it well.”

Corgan went on to reminisce about the first time he encountered the man he would come to call a friend. “The first time I met Robert it was a pretty wild night,” he laughed. “He was drunk out of his mind and he asked me to make out with him. He ended up throwing up on my shoes. It was a memorable introduction! The next time I saw him, he just looked at me with those sleepy eyes and laughed, like, ‘That’s the way we roll in Cure world…’. When I think of The Cure, I think of a lot of alcohol being consumed. I’ve had some wild, fun nights with them.”

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.