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Chicagoist Presents: Great Lollapalooza Moments Over The Years

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 30, 2012 7:40PM


(Thousands of concertgoers from around the world will descend on Chicago for Lollapalooza this weekend. All week, Chicagoist will look at some of our favorite Lollapalooza moments over the years.)

It's hard to believe that what began in 1991 as a farewell tour package for Jane’s Addiction has morphed into a destination festival that brings an estimated 300,000 people to Chicago’s Grant Park and spawned sister events internationally. The early Lollapaloozas were energetic, chaotic, anarchic, and a product of the times.

While Jane’s Addiction was the headliner, much of the press for the first Lollapalooza focused on the controversy over Ice-T and his thrash band Body Count’s song “Cop Killer.” Ice-T defended the song as a first person account of someone who was fed up with police brutality. But he eventually pulled the song of Body Count’s debut record of his own volition as the criticism increased. Overshadowed by the controversy of “Cop Killer” was how meh the song and album actually was. In another ironic twist, Ice-T now makes a living playing a cop on television.

Living Colour wasn’t the first band of African Americans to make a splash playing hard rock, but they were definitely one of the best. Unfortunately the audience they gained with their debut Vivid was largely turned away by the ambitious, varied and superior follow-up Time’s Up, which in my opinion is a desert island disc that holds up 22 years later. Living Colour was one of the show-stealers of that first Lollapalooza.

Perry Farrell coined the term “alternative nation,” and Lollapalooza 1992 was highlighted by Seattle and the “grunge” movement. Soundgarden and Pearl Jam repped Seattle, while the Jesus and Mary Chain and Lush brought shoegaze to a wider audience; Ice Cube was at his hungriest, Al Jourgensen and Ministry were at the peak of their commercial success. Then there were the headliners The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Clean and sober for the first time, they had something to prove.

Lollapalooza 1992 was the year the side stage expanded greatly and one of the crowd favorites was the Jim Rose Circus. a carnival of side show freaks, including Matt "the Tube" Crowley, who worked a seven-foot length of tube through his nose into his stomach and extract bile using a crude hand pump. Crowley would then offer guests to drink the bile. One person who took him up on the offer was Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.

Alice in Chains, riding the success of Dirt, was one of the main stage attractions for Lollapalooza 1993. They didn't disappoint as this was the time frame where singer Layne Staley wasn't crippled by drug addiction... yet. HEre's what could have been.