The Smashing Pumpkins song “Spaceboy” off the Siamese Dreams album was written by Billy Corgan about his half-brother Jesse Corgan (on-stage in the red shirt). Jesse was born with mild cerebral palsy that caused him to walk on his toes, and Tourette’s syndrome (a neurological disorder that can cause nonsensical or uncontrolled speech). He also had heart problems and a chromosomal disorder that caused him to be slower than the other children.
Jesse was born in 1976 making Billy his older brother by 9 years. Billy spent a good deal of his youth taking care of and defending him and pretty much remembers always being with Jesse. When Billy would play sports for hours on end and he always brought Jesse, who played in a nearby sandbox. Some boys wanted to know who the “retard kid” was. “That’s my brother,” Billy would tell them. He taught Jesse how to play baseball and read him books at night before they fell asleep. Occasionally, in the middle of the night, Jesse would wake up and then go back to sleep on the floor by his brother’s bed until Billy would wake up and let him in. Says Billy’s stepmother, Penny Andersen: “He became to Jesse what he would have wanted in a father.”
The two remain close as Jesse joined The Smashing Pumpkins on stage in Chicago in December 2008.
Here is what Billy said about the song “Spaceboy”
“That’s about my little brother. He’s an interesting character. It’s kind of about how he’s different. He has physical handicap, it’s hard to explain. He has a rare chromosomal disorder, it gives him a some what different genetic make up. He has different physical and mental problems and yet somehow by all accounts, I’m physically and mentally OK. But I feel our lives are the similar. (Similar in the way that we are both) Freaks of nature, freaks of society, I always keep going back to something by Henry Miller. No matter how much he smiled, told jokes, shook hands, patted people on the back. People still looked at him funny, they still sensed something wasn’t right. I’ve always felt that way, that no matter how normal I appear, I was treated differently.