Two years later, the Pumpkins released their first limted edition single, “I Am One,” via a local label. It sold out. Upping the ante, they issued their second single, "Tristessa," through Sub Pop. It, too, did well enough to land them a deal with Caroline Records.
The band went into the studio with producer Butch Vig and $20,000. They came out of the studio with Gish. The single “Rhinoceros” gained some traction at modern rock radio, so the Pumpkins followed up with an EP, Lull, also in 1991. The combination got them a deal at Caroline's affiliate label Virgin Records America.
Tours with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction, and Guns N' Roses ensued, getting the Pumpkins in front of a collectively massive audience. While on the road, Iha and Wretzky endured a nasty break-up of their romantic coupling, Chamberlin became a drug and alcohol addict, and Corgan sank into a profound depression.
Being lumped into the grunge movement of the early 1990s added even more pressure to breakthrough in a big way. Corgan, in particular, felt that weight. Siamese Dream was their 1993 response. It would debut at number 10 on the Billboard album chart and go on to sell more than four million copies.
The next year, a collection of rarities and B-sides was released in Pisces Iscariot. It entered the Hot 200 at number four. Almost non-stop touring filled the band's itinerary between 1993 and 1995 which led to a break in order to compose the next album.
After writing for over a year, Corgan took the crew back into the studio to record Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, a double-album that he intended to be "The Wall for Generation X." Upon its release in October of 1995, it topped the Billboard album chart and would eventually sell some nine million units in the U.S. Of the album's seven 1997 Grammy nominations, it won only for Best Hard Rock Performance award, for the album's lead single "Bullet with Butterfly Wings."
During the band's 1996 tour, an Irish fan was crushed to death in a mosh pit and their touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin, died from a drug overdose. Chamberlin also overdosed, but survived to be arrested for drug possession and fired from the band. Matt Walker signed on as the new drummer.
The single "The End is the Beginning is the End" from the Batman & Robin soundtrack made them repeat winners at the 1998 Grammy Awards. That year also marked the release of Adore replete with a new Pumpkins sound that leaned heavily on electronica. During the subsequent 17-date tour, the band donated 100% of ticket sales to local charities for a total of about $2.8 million.
Chamberlin, fresh out of rehab, rejoined the line-up in 1999 for a tour and the 2000 release of Machina/The Machines of God. However, Wretzky left after the album was made and was replaced by Melissa Auf der Maur. Later that year, Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music was also released just prior to the band taking a hiatus.
When a reunion was announced in 2006, only Corgan and Chamberlin were on board. They added in guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Ginger Pooley, and keyboardist Lisa Harriton for their first shows in 2007.
In July of that year, after the Pumpkins performed at the Live Earth concert, Zeitgeist was released on Reprise Records. It made its debut at number two on the Billboard chart. The American Gothic EP followed in early 2008.
Chamberlin took his leave again in 2009. As of 2010, Corgan's newest line-up included guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino, and drummer Mike Byrne. Two EP volumes of Teargarden by Kaleidyscope were also released giving the new Pumpkins new material for their world tour.