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Billy Corgan receives Vanguard Awards at AMPAs in Cleveland

Stars come out for AP Awards at Rock Hall in Cleveland.
Stars come out for AP Awards at Rock Hall in Cleveland.
Peter M. Roche

A parade of rock stars new and old flocked to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum yesterday for the first-ever AP Awards.

Billy Corgan at AP Awards in Cleveland
Peter M. Roche

The event—marking thirty years of publication for the Cleveland-based Alterative Press magazine—began with a red carpet soiree and culminated with an all-star cast of musicians in concert at Voinovich Park on the Lake Erie shore.

Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus emceed the concert, while WWE Superstar CM Punk and Automatic Loveletter vocalist Juliet Simms hosted the red carpet gathering. On hand were old-school musicians like Joan Jett, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), and Slash (ex-Guns ‘n’ Roses). But the appearance of younger groups like All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, Asking Alexandria, Paramore, Echosmith, Pierce the Veil, and Suicide Silence kept the (mostly) female spectators screaming outside the Rock Hall.

The gala (sponsored by Gibson and Monster Energy Drink) was aired live on AXS TV and resulted in hours of trending on Twitter and other social media.

Another alternative legend, Billy Corgan, was on hand to receive the AP Vanguard Award for his career in music. The grunge-era guitarist behind such hits as “Cherub Rock,” “Today,” and “1979” paused on the Rock Hall red carpet to chat with us about Cleveland’s contradictory status as a rock and roll capital of the world—and as a shrinking market for bigger tours.

“You know, it’s kind of a mixed thing now,” he surmised. “Because this was always a mainstay stop for Pumpkins on tour—but this economics stuff has hit the rust belt states so hard.”

“It’s tough because I love this town,” Corgan continued. “The audiences have always been great. But then you start taking on these big tours, and you can’t go this this place or that because you’ll only do half the numbers you could do elsewhere.”

Chalk it up to the cold, logical brutality of math? Maybe.

“It’s not a personal thing,” the guitarist said.

The author of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” vouched for Northeast Ohio’s long-standing love of rock and roll, but also reflected on the shifted trends that often keep the Midwest out of the limelight.

Not to mention tour itineraries.

“I can’t speak for the kids—because that’s a generational thing—but I believe overall that the historical legacy part of Cleveland is that of a rock and roll town: The town that broke Rush and stuff. And that’s kind of getting lost. I see that here, and Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis. I see that chain being broken, and it’s hard for me to watch. But there’s not much you can really do about it. You hope it’ll come back, and maybe it will. But for the last five to seven years it’s been a weird thing.

“But I love the people, I love the town,” Billy reiterated. “It has the same values as Chicago in many ways. The same long-suffering sports teams!”