In 2016, Smashing Pumpkins set off on an electro-acoustic tour of North America, much to the delight of fans keen to relive their angst-tinged youth. This cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Angie’ became a fixture of that nostalgia tour and featured alongside renditions of songs by Hole and David Bowie.
The story goes that ‘Angie’ was actually written about Bowie’s wife Angela, who, in her autobiography, recalls walking in on Bowie and Jagger in bed together, something Jagger claims never happened. Rumour says that Jagger wrote this 1973 Goats Head Soup track in an attempt to appease her. In reality, Keith Richards wrote the bulk of the song. Jagger later explained that ‘Angie’ was actually a reference to Keith’s daughter, Angela.
But the mythology surrounding ‘Angie’ doesn’t end there. Some have speculated that the track was inspired by Keith’s then-girlfriend, the Italian actress Anita Pallenberg. However, Richards would later quash this rumour as well. Writing in his 2010 autobiography Life, Richards said: “While I was in the [Vevey drug] clinic (in March-April 1972), Anita was down the road having our daughter, Angela.”
The guitarist continued: “Once I came out of the usual trauma, I had a guitar with me and I wrote ‘Angie’ in an afternoon, sitting in bed, because I could finally move my fingers and put them in the right place again, and I didn’t feel like I had to s–t the bed or climb the walls or feel manic anymore. I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ohhh, Diana. I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote ‘Angie.’ In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out.”
Smashing Pumpkins played ‘Angie’ on a number of stops during their stripped-back 2016 tour. While performing the cover in Memphis, Tennesse, the band were joined by a hapless fan. Red-faced and beaming, the audience member clambered onto the stage to bob along next to Corgan mid-performance, seemingly unaware of the anger spreading across the famously bad-tempered singer’s face.
After pausing to give him the opportunity to remove himself, Corgan told the self-indulgent stage invader: “Get the fuck off my stage before I punch you in the fucking face.” There’s something wonderfully ironic about Corgan’s aggression, which came during perhaps the most blissed-out Smashing Pumpkins tour of all time. Still, that’s Corgan for you. Unpredictable to the core.