From Tinley Park to Grant Park
Lollapalooza has become a much beloved summer tradition, but it wasn’t always in the city of Chicago. In fact, it was in many cities.
Its history can more or less be divided into two parts: when it was a traveling music festival with performances on two to three stages (1991–97, 2003) and when it was based in Chicago with performances on multiple stages (2005–present). Lollapalooza was created by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991 as a farewell tour for the band. From July 18 to August 28, they barnstormed through twenty-one cities across the United States in forty-two days, headlining a lineup that included Siouxsie and the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails, Fishbone, Violent Femmes, Ice-T’s Body Count, Butthole Surfers, and Rollins Band. It was a smashing success, and the festival continued with a rotation of bands primarily from the alternative rock, punk rock, heavy metal, hip-hop, and electronic genres. However, it gradually declined in popularity and ticket sales until the 1998 fest was canceled due to lack of a headliner.
In 2003, Jane’s Addiction regrouped and along with it Lollapalooza. While the festival took place, poor ticket sales led to some dates being canceled, and lackluster sales continued into 2004 with that festival being canceled entirely. Determined to make it work, Perry Farrell regrouped and reenvisioned Lollapalooza as a two-day affair in 2005 just in Chicago with multiple stages, including one for kid-friendly performances. The new format worked and was expanded to three days in 2006. Lollapalooza grew in size and duration, and by 2019, 181 bands and artists performed on multiple stages in four days.
In 2012, the Chicago Park District and Lollapalooza organizers came to an agreement that secured Grant Park as the home of the music fest through 2021, but in its former life as a traveling festival, the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park was Lollapalooza’s Illinois stop from 1991 to 1995 and again in 1997. These images captured by a Chicago Sun-Times photographer document festivalgoers outside of the venue on July 2, 1993.
Learn more about the history of outdoor concerts in Chicago in the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Read more.
“The Encyclopedia of Chicago is no mere collection of fun facts. It is a work of stunning scholarly achievement.” — Tom McNamee, Chicago Sun-Times
Published by the University of Chicago Press, The Encyclopedia of Chicago is the result of a ten-year collaboration between the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum. This project brought together hundreds of historians, journalists, and experts on everything from airlines to Zoroastrians to explore all aspects of the rich world of Chicago and its surrounding metropolitan area. Read the Encyclopedia