Lollapalooza is a concert festival conceived by Perry Farrell and producer Dave Jerden. The concert was originally designed to bring artists and fans of very different types of music to a single touring festival. After years of touring and a handful of canceled years, Lollapalooza evolved into a single event spanning a weekend in the summer, and has been held in Grant Park in Chicago, IL since 2005. On November 17, 2010, it was announced that Lollapalooza would be going international with the launch of Lollapalooza Chile in 2011. The following year, Lollapalooza returned to Chile and expanded to Brazil. It has been announced that in addition to returning to those two countries, 2013 will see the launch of Lollapalooza Isreal.
The original idea behind Lollapalooza was to expose fans to new types of music, and help promote lesser known and independent acts by building a bill that includes smaller bands with major headliners. It was also designed to bring both East Coast and West Coast culture to middle America. Lollapalooza is also known for bringing heavy exposure to a number of, at the time, up-and-coming bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam.
The word “Lollapalooza” means “something outstanding of its kind.” Perry explained in an interview he heard the word while watching a Three Stooges movie. In the movie, Moe said something to the effect of “this is a lollapalooza!” In the July 12th, 1994 edition of Rolling Stone, when asked “What Does Lollapalooza mean?” Perry responded, “It means someone or something special, excellent or exceptional. It can also mean a giant lollipop.”
The original Lollapalooza tour doubled as the farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction. It was Perry’s way of not only ending Jane’s Addiction while they were still “on top”, but it was also to give birth to something new and important through the death of something great.
As designed, Lollapalooza gathered artists from multiple genres for a single tour. Placing rap, metal and alternative acts on the same stage and mixing all their fans into one huge and highly diverse audience. It is through this that Lollapalooza is credited with helping spread “alternative music” across all of North America as well as exposing a wide audience to hip-hop.
In addition to the festivals musical acts, Lollapalooza hosts a variety of non-music content. Non-musical acts to perform at Lollapalooza include the Jim Rose Circus and the Shaolin Monks. Additionally, many political groups were invited, hoping to provide an open forum to all sides of various important and controversial issues. Through this, concert goers would be exposed to all sides of the issue and be able to construct their own well-informed opinions. Lollapalooza also became a showplace for new technology.
Lollapalooza was clearly inspired by a number of annual festivals in the US and Europe such as the Reading Festival, Leeds Festival and Glastonbury Festival in England, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and the 1990 A Gathering of the Tribes festival. However, unlike the concerts that inspired it, Lollapalooza was not a single event. Instead it would travel the United States and Canada, stopping at major cities to play between one and three shows.
Of worthy note, Jane’s Addiction was actually scheduled to perform at the Reading Festival on August 24, 1990, but was forced to cancel due to Perry Farrell losing his voice. Porno For Pyros played both the Roskilde and Glastonbury Festivals in 1993.
A Gathering of the Tribes
Ian Astbury, lead singer of The Cult, has continually and publicly criticized Perry for allegedly copying his idea of bringing bands from various different genres together for a single huge concert with a highly diverse lineup. In the summer of 1990, Ian Astbury and promoter Bill Graham organized the A Gathering of the Tribes festival which took place on October 6 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in San Francisco, CA and October 7 at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, CA. The concert was designed to raise awareness to problems that plagued Native American tribes in the United States. Native American blessings were held on stage at the beginning of both shows.
While both dates of AGotT quickly sold out, the shows drawing around 40,000 people, and the concert seeming to be a creative success, A Gathering of the Tribes was not a financial success like Lollapalooza. Astbury estimates he lost $50,000 of his own money on the show. Regardless, he feels that these shows were extremely influential to Lollapalooza.
Many report Perry Farrell attended the October 7th show, and that the show was his inspiration for creating Lollapalooza. However, Jane’s Addiction was on tour in Europe around this time, so how could this be possible? Amazingly enough, it is. Jane’s Addiction played the Astoria Theatre in London, England on October 5, and had the following day off. The band were scheduled to play a show in Amsterdam on October 7th, however this show was canceled due to Perry reportedly being ill and was rescheduled for October 19th. Additionally, we’ve been told the Jane’s show on October 8 in Gent, Belgium was also canceled. Logistically it is possible, so it simply begs the question, did Perry blow off two European shows simply to fly back to Los Angeles to attend the A Gathering of the Tribes show?
While the concept of having many bands share the same stage was by no means new, there were two aspects of the AGotT festival that are shared with Lollapalooza. The first is the level of diversity in the tour lineup and the second is the idea of helping inform the audience of non-music issues. Of course the original Woodstock festival also shares the latter attribute and predates both festivals by over twenty years.
The lineup for 1990’s A Gathering of the Tribes included The Cult, Soundgarden, Ice-T, The Indigo Girls, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, Joan Baez, Steve Jones, Iggy Pop, The Charlatans U.K., Lenny Kravitz, The Cramps, and The Mission U.K..
Neither Lenny Kravitz nor Public Enemy performed on October 6, even though they were scheduled to. Public Enemy’s set was canceled due to violence among integrated crowds at some of their previous concerts. In 1991, Public Enemy played a competing tour that included The Sisters of Mercy and Gang of Four. That tour was plagued by extremely poor promotion, likely in part of the infamy PE garnered from crowd violence at their shows.
Ice-T’s band Body Count was part of the inaugural Lollapalooza tour in 1991, and Soundgarden played Lollapalooza in both 1992 and 1996.
Lollapalooza’s first two years are arguably it’s best. Both years had very diverse lineups, including a number of up and coming acts topped off by a headlining act at the pinnacle of their career. However, it seemed the tour lost a bit of its focus year after year. Perry Farrell’s involvement and influence also seemed to change from year to year, due to his involvement in other projects.
While venues loved the money Lollapalooza brought in, the all day shows put a lot of damage and wear and tear on venue facilities and tended to anger local residents. After three highly successful concerts that each sold out within minutes at the Pine Knob Amphitheater outside Detroit in Clarkston, MI, local residents persuaded venue owners to pass on the 1993 tour which instead took place at the Milan Dragway in Milan, MI. This show may have been the very first Lollapalooza to actually not sell out. While Lollapalooza was able to easily sell out the 15,000 seat Pine Knob, the Milan Dragway concert was held on the stadium infield which has over triple the capacity of Pike Knob.
Picking a headlining act was always the biggest challenge. The festival struck gold the first two years with Jane’s Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both had a long history, had an immensely loyal fanbase, a powerful underground buzz and were gaining huge momentum with mainstream audiences. In 1993, Alice In Chains was initially announced as the tour’s headliner. However, this had not been cleared with everyone who had a controlling stake in Lollapalooza. Primus was soon announced as co-headliner. Neither band had the buzz behind it that Jane’s Addiction or the Red Hot Chili Peppers had. In 1994, organizers found such a band, Nirvana. Nirvana agreed to headline the tour, but officially backed out on April 7 citing a suicide attempt by lead singer Kurt Kobain earlier that spring. Unbeknown to anyone at the time, Kurt had successfully committed suicide two days prior. His body was found on April 8, 1994, the day after the band announced they were dropping out of the Lollapalooza tour.
Subsequent years saw an over-emphasis on alternative and “grunge”. Less diverse crowds acted more harshly to certain acts, suck as Sinead O’Conner, who dropped out of the 1995 tour. Perry Farrell became disenchanted in what Lollapalooza had become. The tour that was once a shining example of modern counter-culture now epitomized everything in the mainstream. Perry sold his interest in Lollapalooza to the William-Morris agency and concentrated his efforts on the ENIT festival.
Lollapalooza continued without Perry’s influence and vision but the tour’s appeal was waning. Organizers’ decision to have Metallica headline the 1996 tour was the death knell in the eyes of many fans. In all previous years, Lollapalooza’s headlining act was an up-and-coming band on the verge of mainstream success. Metallica had already long established their success and was more of a band that appeared to be well past their prime. The 1996 tour was also the shortest Lollapalooza tour to date at 22 shows, less than half the number of dates Lollapalooza had just two years prior.
Desperate to regain the ground Lollapalooza was losing to competing tours, organizers rethought things for the 1997 tour. Lollapalooza drew heavily on the current popularity of electronic music, a genre the tour had heavily neglected in recent years, and also introduced the concept of a rotating lineup. Instead of a static lineup that played the entire tour, certain acts only played select dates of the tour. The idea was to keep the tour fresh, but instead confused concert goers. After 1997, the tour appeared to be down for the count.
Lollapalooza’s lack of focus and extreme mainstream appeal destroyed the underground feel that made the tour so successful in the first place, and that newer competing tours had. It was no longer “cool” to go to Lollapalooza nor for bands to be part of the tour. Lollapalooza ’98 planned, but when organizers were unable to secure a headlining act, the tour was scrapped. Artists that turned down the headlining slot include Garbage, Marylin Manson, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Radiohead. Prior to this, tour management felt that the recent reformed Jane’s Addiction would return to Lollapalooza and headline the 1998 tour. Former Jane’s Addiction manager and Lollapalooza co-founder Ted Gardner blamed the tour’s failure on Perry Farrell for waiting several months after the completion of the Relapse tour to announce Jane’s would not headline Lollapalooza. However, members of Jane’s Addiction insisted that no further tour had been discussed and that Dave Navarro and Flea were both against further touring.
Organizers tried again in 1999, but were still unable to secure a headlining act. Over the next couple of years there were rumors of resurrection attempts, but none came to fruition.
Lollapalooza’s rebirth would ultimately be through the man that helped create it, Perry Farrell. A re-inspired Perry was able to bring the recently reformed Jane’s Addiction back to Lollapalooza to headline. While Jane’s wasn’t the first band to have played on multiple tours, they were the first band to headline twice. The 2003 Lollapalooza tour was a marginal success. A number of shows were canceled and rescheduled at different venues due to poor ticket sales and other logistical problems. While Jane’s Addiction was a huge drawn in 1991, the band had not released and entire album of new material in over ten years and had already done a pair of reunion tours. Delays caused their fourth album to be released over two weeks into the 2003 tour.
A 2004 tour was planned and scheduled, with an important new twist. Lollapalooza was to now be a two day event, playing back to back nights and single venues with a different lineup and headliner each night. Acts were signed, dates planned and tickets went on sale. Lollapalooza 2004 was also to be the homecoming for the newly reformed Pixies, who had agreed to be a special headlining act for the Chicago, IL show. Unfortunately, fans felt the rest of the lineup was not as strong and ticket sales were extremely weak, with one very notable exception: Chicago. However, one concert couldn’t save the tour and Lollapalooza 2004 was scrapped. Many felt had organizers been able to tap the Pixies to headline the entire tour, things may have turned out very differently, as they had the underground buzz that great headliners in the early 1990’s had.
After the failure of the 2004 tour, Perry Farrell, along with Capital Sports & Entertainment, bought the rights to Lollapalooza. They had a vision. Chicago’s interest in the 2004 tour showed that there was still life in the idea of Lollapalooza. 2005 saw a very different Lollapalooza, one with fresh ideas and one the showed the spirit of the original tour. In a twist of irony, Lollapalooza became much like the festivals that influenced it, an annual weekend event boasting a huge lineup of diverse acts. The changed paid off, and the 2005 festival was a huge success. The following year, the concert grew into a three day even, boasting a lineup of over 100 bands.
The new Lollapalooza worked. In October 25, 2006, the Chicago Park District and Capital Sports & Entertainment agreed to a five-year, $5 million dollar deal to keep Chicago’s Grant Park as the home of Lollapalooza through 2011. On March 25, 2012 Chicago’s WGN announced that Chicago District Park and tour organizers C3 came to an agreement which locked Grant Park as the home of Lollapalooza through 2021.
On November 17, 2010, Lollapalooza Chile was announced. The inaugural event will take place April 2-3 at Parque O’Higgins in Santiago, Chile.
Culture & Influence
Lollapalooza’s immense success help influence a number of imitators. Many of these imitators were also quite successful, and became significant competition, thus helping in the tour’s decline in the mid to late 1990s. Significant tours that Lollapalooza helped influence are Ozzfest, Lilith Fair, H.O.R.D.E., and Warped, all of whom have lineups that appeal to a more focused audience than Lollapalooza. Coachella and Bonnaroo are concerts which boast diverse audiences closer to Lollapalooza, but were non-touring festivals. Perry Farrell, who is friends with the promoters, has performed at nearly every Coachella concert. The immensely popular Big Day Out festival is seen by many as the Lollapalooza of Australia and New Zealand. Porno For Pyros played the 1996 tour and Jane’s Addiction played the 2003 tour. The Beastie Boys were influenced to start the Tibetan Freedom Concert, which Porno For Pyros played in 1997, while co-headlining Lollapalooza ’94.
An episode of The Simpsons called Homerpalooza originally aired on May 19, 1996. The episode features a concerted called Hullabalooza and has guest appearances by Lollapalooza alumni Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins.
ENIT, short for “Earth-Knit”, was Perry Farrell’s attempt to create a new festival that retained the principles Lollapalooza was found on. It returned to the root ideas of Lollapalooza by hosting more diverse and underground acts. There was also a heavy focus on environmental issues.
Woodstock ’94 & ’99
While you can trace back Lollapalooza’s influence to concerts like the original Woodstock concert in 1969, Lollapalooza, and its continued commercial success in the early 1990’s was clearly influential to the concert’s 25th and 30th anniversary shows. Woodstock ’94’s lineup was very Lollapalooza-esq, simply on a much larger scale. A large number of Lollapalooza alumni played the Woodstock ’94 concert, including Cypress Hill and Green Day who were part of the 1994 Lollapalooza tour, who both canceled their sets on the August 15th Lollapalooza show at Bicentennial Park in Miami, FL. Cypress Hill canceled their set ahead of time, while Green Day was forced to scratch their set at the last minute due to Mike Dirnt losing a number of teeth while in the crowd during their Woodstock ’94 performance.
Three fourth of Jane’s Addiction performed at Woodstock ’94. Perry and Steve Perkins performed with Porno For Pyros. Dave Navarro made his live debut with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Ozzfest was created in 1996 in response to Lollapalooza organizers declining Sharon Osbourne’s request to include Ozzy Ozbourne as part of the 1996 Lollapalooza tour. Sharon’s request was purportedly laughed off by organizers, who responded by telling her that Ozzy was “too uncool” to be part of their tour. In turn, Ozzy and Sharon created Ozzfest.
Unlike Lollapalooza, Ozzfest was originally a two day event that was comprised of heavy metal acts. Ozzfest first year was so successful that it was expanded to a touring festival the following year. With the strength of Ozzy Osbourne or Black Sabbath as the headlining act, Ozzfest has continued to remain successful over the past ten years, including a number of tours that were expanded to the United Kingdom and various locations in Europe.
Tour Specific Information
For information on a specific year, see the following articles:
- Lollapalooza ’91
- Lollapalooza ’92
- Lollapalooza ’93
- Lollapalooza ’94
- Lollapalooza ’95
- Lollapalooza ’96
- Lollapalooza ’97
- Lollapalooza ’03
- Lollapalooza ’04
- Lollapalooza ’05
- Lollapalooza ’06
- Lollapalooza ’07
- Lollapalooza ’08
- Lollapalooza ’09
- Lollapalooza ’10
- Lollapalooza ’11
- Lollapalooza ’12
- Lollapalooza Chile ’11
- Lollapalooza Chile ’12
- Lollapalooza Brasil ’12