Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan Reunited with Stolen 'Gish' Guitar After 27 Years

"I always felt the guitar would come back when it was time"
Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan Reunited with Stolen 'Gish' Guitar After 27 Years
Photo: Matt Forsythe
Making for quite the wild tale, Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan has been reunited with a guitar that was stolen from him nearly three decades ago.

The long-lost Gish-era Fender Stratocaster was purchased from his bandmate Jimmy Chamberlain around 1989 or 1990, but was then stolen after a show at Detroit's Saint Andrew's Hall in 1992, Rolling Stone explains. At the time, Corgan filed a police report and offered a $10,000, no-questions-asked reward for its return, but he had no luck retrieving the gear.

Now, 27 years later, the instrument has miraculously made its way back to Corgan.

"I always felt the guitar would come back," Corgan told Rolling Stone. "And I know that sounds strange, but today didn't surprise me. I always felt the guitar would come back when it was time."

Corgan was reunited with the guitar — which features a psychedelic custom paint job done by Corgan himself — in Flushing, MI, on Tuesday (February 5). Apparently a woman named Beth James bought the guitar 10 or 12 years ago at a yard sale for $200.

Having no idea the guitar belonged to Corgan or that it was stolen, she simply kept it as a decorative piece in her basement. Eventually, though, a friend recognized it as Corgan's long-lost guitar.

"I thought it was painted cool," James said. "I literally don't know anything about the guitar. I actually told my husband I only paid $100 for it because he would have killed me if he found out I paid more."

The guitar was used all over the Smashing Pumpkins' 1991 debut album Gish, and as Corgan explained, it was a critical piece of the band's early sound, so being reunited with the instrument all these years later is indeed something of a miracle.

"I'm literally gonna take it somewhere, and get it fixed up," Corgan said. "And I'll start using it. It's a really valuable guitar to me. And I mean, the timing is sort of strange, and auspicious, and so I take it as a sign that it's supposed to be part of what we're doing."

You can read the full Rolling Stone piece and check out some images of the guitar here.