This weekend, Perry Farrell will return to the stage at the rock festival he helped begin — Lollapalooza — with the original lineup of Jane’s Addiction that rocked the inaugural event in 1991. “We were something brand new — we were called alternative rock,” Farrell remembers. “Jane’s Addiction by themselves probably couldn’t have brought in 20,000 kids, but we had strength in numbers. If we invited a bunch of our friends like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nine Inch Nails and Butthole Surfers … people like that, all of a sudden you’re going to get the attention of the underground. And it worked out. So we started to draw kids, 10,000-20,000 per city.”
The festival became a cultural phenomenon, spawning imitators, detractors and a hilarious homage on The Simpsons, where Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins mingled with Peter Frampton and a pair of talking shoes. But when Metallica took top billing in 1996, everything seemed to change. “I have nothing against Metallica, other than the fact that they were a different beast, they’re not an alternative rock group,” says Farrell now. A year later, Lolla as he knew it was gone.
But the fest roared back to life in 2001 and reconfigured itself into its current incarnation — a three-day destination festival in Chicago — in 2005. This year, Tool, Depeche Mode, the Killers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs join Jane’s Addiction as headliners, and Rolling Stone will have complete coverage, from live reports and photos to interviews and video footage.
But first, look back at Lolla’s history in a photo essay featuring Farrell’s memories by Steve Appleford, with additional reporting by Shirley Halperin:
• Lollapalooza: The Life, Death and Rebirth of America’s Storied Rock Festival