Lollapalooza – 90s Music Festivals


Lollapalooza 1991 posterNorth American touring festival Lollapalooza defined a generation of music for many kids who came of age during the 1990s. In 1991, the fest was originally conceived by Perry Farrell and was intended to be a one-off farewell blowout tour for his band Jane’s Addiction. The tour’s success, however, led to its occurrence for additional six summers in a row.

Though the focal point of Lollapalooza was the rise of alternative music, it was a summer variety show at its finest. Unlike many other festivals of the 90s, Lolla featured artists from many different genres of music, ranging from punk to industrial to rap to rock and roll. The festival also made


a name for itself with the inclusion of non-music entertainment touring with the festival. Beyond bands, there were freak shows, interactive gaming demonstrations, and portable visual art installations, among other sights and activities.

Lollapalooza’s inaugural year featured only one stage and a specific, tour-long line up: Jane’s Addiction, Sioxsie & the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails, Fishbone, Ice T & Body Count, Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band, EBN, and the Violent Femmes. Its success was inarguable; the festival grossed record high numbers and was revived annually for six years thereafter, though Jane’s Addiction did not play any 90s Lollapalooza events after that first tour.

Ticket from Lollapalooza 1991In succeeding years, the festival welcomed the addition of a second stage and thus more artists, both musicians and otherwise. The second stage allowed for a bigger line up, which saw major acts such as Cypress Hill, Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, Tool, the Flaming Lips, Guided by Voices, Luscious Jackson, the Black Crowes, and many, many more. The stage also provided a foothold for younger and newer artists who were not as established as the acts with which they were sharing the stage.

Grunge and alternative music fans of the 90s are likely to remember when Nirvana cancelled their scheduled appearances for the 1994 Lollapalooza tour — specifically because frontman Kurt Cobain was found dead of an apparent suicide several days after the announcement. His wife, Courtney Love, appeared at several tour stops, talking to audiences about Cobain’s death and usually singing a couple songs, something many saw as a questionable move in the wake of one’s widowing.

In 1996, Farrell curtailed his participation with the Lollapalooza brand. One of the cited reasons is that Farrell saw the addition of Metallica to the lineup as a departure from the peaceful, accepting, alternative mentality of the festival in its original design. In retrospect, it seems that the Jane’s Addiction frontman jumped ship at exactly the right time: Lollapalooza floundered throughout its 1997 run and was cancelled after that year’s tour because no one would agree to headline the dying festival.

Despite Lollapalooza’s 1998 cancellation, the festival made a major move in 1997 by adding the Indie Stage, which primarily featured independent up-and-coming bands, contest winners, and artists local to the cities of various tour stops. This effort redeemed the festival somewhat, and helped lay the groundwork for many other major festivals to follow suit, including Lilith Fair, Ozzfest, and Warped Tour.

Perry Farrell and friends discuss how the "Lollapalooza" name came to be and how the word has permeated into our culture.
A unique look at how the first ever Lollapalooza lineup came to be. Perry, Marc Geiger, Dave Navarro and Henry Rollins revisit how the bands were picked.

Lollapalooza alumni reminisce about camaraderie and tell stories from the fest’s early tours.
The Jim Rose Circus started 1992 at Lollapalooza. Perry and
Jim describe some of the "freak" acts that performed on
the side show stage.

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