Lollapalooza 2012 is here! As the festival takes over Chicago’s Grant Park, those who can’t attend — or those who just aren’t there yet — can enjoy the next best thing: a brief history lesson detailing the origins of the festival, from its name to its time wandering the wilderness to the Great Lost Lollapalooza Lineup of 2004.
1. Lollapalooza has a history of putting on heavy rock music from diverse artists dating back to its inception
It makes perfect sense that Black Sabbath would pick Lollapalooza for its sole U.S. date, despite the festival’s early tensions with Ozzy Osbourne (see number 3). While the Big 4 U.S. music festivals — Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits — have a lot of crossover, Lollapalooza’s interest in heavy music dates back to its initial lineup. The 11-band bill in 1991 counted Nine Inch Nails, Body Count, Rollins Band, Fishbone, Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine, and the Butthole Surfers among its number.
2. The name has some weird baggage dating back to World War II, though
No one can precisely tell you the origins of the word “Lollapalooza,” but it probably comes from a World War II password used by American soldiers in the Pacific. Approaching soldiers in Allied uniforms were ordered to shout the word back to the ones manning the checkpoint — if they pronounced the L’s as R’s, as Japanese soldiers were likely to do, they could be identified as spies.
3. The fact that Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t invited to play in 1996 resulted in the creation of Ozzfest
Legend has it that after Ozzy was denied the chance to join the Lollapalooza tour in 1996, Sharon Osbourne decided she’d pack up her ball and start her own tour for her husband to play on. Thus was Ozzfest born, and ran for a decade and a half, minus a couple years here or there. All hatchets appear to be well-buried now, with the Ozzman rejoining his Black Sabbath homies as Friday night’s headliner.
4. Festival founder Perry Farrell makes his presence felt almost every year
Lollapalooza was founded by Jane’s Addiction/Porno For Pyros/Satellite Party frontman Perry Farrell, and while the festival didn’t always feature one of those acts during its touring, ’90s incarnation. (Jane’s took a hiatus after its appearance at the inaugural 1991 fest, while Porno For Pyros sat out every year except 1992 and 1997.) But since returning as a stationary Chicago festival, Farrell is all about Lollapalooza — he’s played with Jane’s Addiction in both 2003 and 2009, with Satellite Party in 2005 and 2007, with his wife in their electronic project PerryEtty in 2010 and 2011, and with special guests including Slash, former Porno for Pyros guitarist Peter DiStafano, the School of Rock All-Stars, and others every year from 2005-2010. In short, dude hasn’t missed a Lollapalooza since 1998. He’s not on the bill this year, but odds are he’ll show up somewhere.
5. The lost lineup of 2004 would have ruled
The 2004 lineup, which was announced but canceled due to weak ticket sales, would have brought Morrissey, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, Wilco, Modest Mouse, the Flaming Lips, and the Killers — among many others — to a dozen or more cities for two-day stands around the US. As mid-’00s indie rock-themed package tours go, you really couldn’t do much better.