Music Starts Here and Sound Royalties Shocks Smashing Pumpkins' Frontman Billy Corgan with Emotional GRAMMY Week Surprise

Allison Portlock

With GRAMMY week boasting some of the most exclusive events of the year, Sound Royalties was thrilled to create a clandestine meeting of their own. On Tuesday February 5, 2019, Sound Royalties reunited The Smashing Pumpkins' frontman Billy Corgan with his infamous "Gish" guitar that had been missing for nearly three decades.

In a private room at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood, the alt rock band's lead singer-songwriter came face to face with his long-lost guitar after thinking he would never see it again. When the 2x GRAMMY winning, 13x GRAMMY nominated musician opened the guitar case, he was in shock to see that it had been found after all these years.

More than just an average guitar, the 70's Fender Stratocaster had been hand-painted by Corgan himself and was used to record the band's debut studio album, Gish. The guitar held tremendous sentimental and musical value to Billy, but was tragically stolen following a 1992 Detroit show at the beginning of The Smashing Pumpkins' mainstream breakout.

Corgan often wondered where his treasured guitar ended up, and in 2009, publicly announced that he was willing to offer a $20,000 reward to whoever possessed the guitar, no questions asked.

Years later, a woman in Michigan by the name of Beth James purchased the guitar for a mere $200 at a yard sale. The aesthetic appeal of the guitar made for a great wall piece in James' basement, where she often had parties and gatherings. It was there that a party-goer recognized the guitar hanging as a potential match to Corgan's missing instrument.

James approached her friend Will Carter at Nashville-based music company Music Starts Here, who enlisted the help of well-connected industry expert Alex Heiche, Founder and CEO of music finance firm Sound Royalties.

Heiche and the Sound Royalties team contacted Corgan to alert him of the lead on his missing guitar and with Billy's interest, promptly set up the meeting with Corgan and James in Los Angeles.

"I never would have imagined that the yard sale guitar on my wall was worth anything, let alone being sought after by a rock legend who unwillingly lost possession of it," said James.

Upon the guitar case's opening, Corgan knew within an instant that the Stratocaster enclosed was indeed the one he used while recording the album Gish.

"While I always thought the guitar would come back to me somehow, I wasn't sure from the pictures that this would be the time," said Corgan, "but I had to try. It had become a piece of me as a musician and key part of our story as a band."

"I'm so grateful to Beth, Sound Royalties, Music Starts Here, and everyone else who helped make this reunion possible," he continued. "This is awesome."

Beth James insisted that she wanted nothing more than the guitar to end up with the rightful owner, but Corgan and Sound Royalties refused to let her walk away empty handed. Sound Royalties bought a new g

uitar for her and Corgan signed it.

"Of course, I was going to do the right thing. Getting to meet Billy and seeing how excited he was, was honestly the icing on the cake," James said. "Plus, I'm now going home with a signed guitar and an even better story."