Perry Farrell's favorite Lollapalooza memories: Lady Gaga dives, Pearl Jam flies, and Patti Smith frightens the children


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Next weekend, Perry Farrell will once again take over Chicago’s massive Grant Park and welcome some of the biggest names in music, including Eminem, Coldplay, Muse, Foo Fighters and My Morning Jacket, to Lollapalooza.

The long-running festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (the very first Lolla, in 1991, traveled across the country and featured Jane’s Addiction, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Ice-T & Body Count, Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band, Violent Femmes and Fishbone), and in honor of all those epic sets and crazy tales, here are Farrell’s five favorite Lollapalooza memories.

Ice-T & Body Count (1991)
“On the first Lollapalooza, Ice-T used to come out during the Jane’s set and we would perform [Sly Stone’s] ‘Don’t Call Me N—–, Whitey.’ It was always a real heavy experience. [To start] I would tell a ‘n—a’ joke to the audience and everybody would laugh, and as they’re laughing, out Ice-T would come from the shadow. He’d slip right behind me and he’d go ‘Don’t call me n—a, whitey!’ That’s how we’d get into it. Then we would end up doing a square dance together.”

Pearl Jam (1992)
“Pearl Jam played the second Lollapalooza. Eddie Vedder is just the consummate showman and gives you every last bit of sweat and blood and guts in his performances. I remember him jumping into the crowd off a speaker stack that was really high. I couldn’t actually believe he did it. The crowd carrying him away will stay in my memory as one of the moments when I knew that Lollapalooza was really an important component to modern music.”

Patti Smith (2006)
“Something that was kind of horrific at the time but is kind of funny now was when Patti Smith performed at our kids’ area, Kidzapalooza. She got up there and she was doing an acoustic folk set, and she stopped in the middle of her song and she started blasting the United States government for dropping bombs on some place in the Middle East. She was just yelling at these kids, ‘The US is dropping bombs and they’re killing people!’ These little 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds with fake mohawks and green hair spray in their hair, they didn’t know what the hell was wrong, and a bunch of them started crying and clinging to their mothers.”

Rage Against the Machine (2008)
“I performed on stage with Samantha Ronson on Perry’s Stage, the electronic stage we opened a few years ago. Lindsay Lohan was with Samantha at that time, so I basically walked around all weekend with Slash, Samantha, and Lindsay Lohan. It was pretty surreal. We are all watching Rage Against the Machine, and we were right underneath the main speaker stack and I asked them all, ‘Would you guys like some earplugs?’ And they were all, ‘No, I don’t need earplugs.’ Maybe it was just their pride and they didn’t want to let me think they couldn’t handle rock and roll. But they really needed them.”

Lady Gaga (2010)
“Lady Gaga went back to the BMI stage where she started in 2007. She was watching Semi-Precious Weapons, her friends and the opening act on her tour. During their set, she jumped into the crowd and was devoured by the crowd. People were pulling her hair, her legs, her boobs. The funniest part is when she finally got back to the stage and the bouncers finally grabbed her, she went right back into the pit. She was digging it.”

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Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • argyle

    I saw NIN/Jane’s Addiction show a couple of years ago and could not believe how amazing JA is on stage. Perry has a great stage presence & the band was spot on.

  • Chuck

    Patti Smith officially gets my vote for Babysitter Of The Year.

    • Apos

      You said it,Chuck. Yikes.

  • KC

    Perry Farrell is an idiot.
    Just sayin’.

  • The Dude

    Saw the show in 92 in STL. The STL show was at one of the outdoor venues that is common these days, with a roof covering the seats and stopping before the grassy area. Vedder climbed up into the stage rafters, worked his way over the crowd, and came down one of the poles between the seats and the grassy area. People went nuts…

  • Kristen

    And all these years later, Eddie Vedder STILL gives us that much effort at each show. Love him.

  • Frank from

    Heck, how about Jane’s Addiction headlining the last touring Lollapalooza in 2003? Jane’s was amazing during that tour too. Reading this article really reminds me of how great that band is, and I can’t wait for the new album in late Sept.

  • socal

    Lollapalooza ’92 @ Irvine was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. I remember vedder doing some crazy stuff, & the set was clean. RHCPs owned with a high energy set, wearing the same costumes they wore at the awards. Temple of the Dog played on day three, I missed that. Ministry was pretty crazy. Soundgarden was epic. I’ll never forget how Chris Cornell came out with a goat’s skull on a stick and made people in the pit all kneel down before it. All of them did except one. Good times.

    • erin

      Those were the days of good music.

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