Laura Morgan
September 30, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The exit of Smashing Pumpkins bassist DArcy earlier this month has left a hole in the waning superstar act. With gossip swirling on online music sites last week that Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur — who’s had a long-standing friendship with Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan — has quit her band, the Web rumor mill is speculating that she could be turned into a Pumpkin.

Geffen Records spokesman Dennis Dennehey insists Hole’s lineup remains intact. ”I spoke with Melissa last night [Sept. 21] and she told me she’s a member of Hole.” This response comes on the heels of online reports citing an unnamed source ”close to the bassist” who stated that Auf Der Maur quit Hole due to the band’s inactivity and was approached by Corgan. With Courtney Love immersed in movie projects (she just finished filming ”Beat,” the Allen Ginsberg docudrama), the group has no definitive plans to tour or begin work on a follow-up to 1998’s ”Celebrity Skin.” The Pumpkins’ as-yet-untitled new album is scheduled for a Feb. 15 release, with a tour to follow.

Love and Corgan, sometime friends and collaborators, have a tumultuous past. During the recording of ”Skin,” they squabbled over the extent of Corgan’s writing contributions. However, it was Corgan who recommended Auf Der Maur for the slot left vacant after Hole bassist Kristin Pfaff died of an overdose in 1994.

Fans on Hole’s website are treating the rumors as fact. One posting reads, ”Good for her…. Unlike other idiot bassists who are content in the background, Melissa deserves to be up front.” Another fan writes, ”I don’t blame her; she is in the band to play music and not wait around for Courtney and her acting career.” Auf Der Maur (who was unavailable for comment) is not under contract to Geffen and could conceivably work with another band while Hole is on hiatus.

”Obviously, somebody out there is thinking they can make claims for Melissa, and claims for Melissa cannot be made at this point,” says Dennehey, who adds that Courtney & Co., Auf Der Maur included, are tentatively scheduled to play Vegas in late October. Stay tuned for the Hole story.

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