The Drugged-Out Metal Anthem That Changed Billy Corgan’s Life

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While many people who have built their lives around rock and roll can give you a roundabout idea as to when they fell in love with music, Billy Corgan can pinpoint the exact moment he heard the right song and his whole life changed forever.

The future Smashing Pumpkins frontman was looking through his uncle’s record collection when he was 8-years old and happened upon Black Sabbath‘s 1971 epic, Master of Reality. The second the young boy played it, he knew he had discovered something profound. 

It is a feeling that Corgan has carried with him regarding the album to this very day.

Speaking to KROQ, he said: “My uncle was a drummer. He passed away very young, but he had this cool stereo and a bunch of progressive rock records like Yes and Jethro Tull. And the first record in the pile was Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality.”

Corgan asked his grandmother if he could play the record. Although she was apprehensive at first, she eventually gave in.

He reflected: “She gave me that look like, ‘I’m gonna get into big trouble from your uncle.’ And I talked her into it.

“The first song was Sweet Leaf. You hear the Ozzy cough or whatever, and then that sound comes in. And I was just like, it made me feel as if I was staring into the cosmos or something.

“I don’t know how else to explain other than I felt this kind of sense of agape. Like, ‘Wow, this is what God sounds like.’ So it’s the 8-year-old version of what God sounds like. But I’ve never found anything cooler.”

In a love letter to marajuana, young Billy had indeed encountered the voice of God by way of one of the heaviest and most psychedelic tunes ever committed to record. 

Thanks, Grandma!