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Lolla Look Back: Hand-Picking The First Lineup

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Perry Farrell (photo via Vimeo)

Perry Farrell (photo via Vimeo)

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Picture it: it’s summer, 1990. [lastfm]Jane’s Addiction[/lastfm], a band who’s already put not a dent, but a crater in the alternative rock scene in America, is preparing to break through the stone wall of music in the UK at Reading Festival. To shake out any jitters and to get themselves festival-ready, they decide to play a warm-up show in a small club, garnering a maximum of 250 people, all of whom sweltered in the heat along with the band. From there, rock commenced; in this video, Marc Geiger, WME Head of Worldwide Music, gave it the “great show” banner.

I mean, please, heat can’t keep Jane’s addiction away from a stage. Fast forward to the next morning. Lead singer [lastfm]Perry Farrell[/lastfm] opens his mouth to speak, and there might has well have been a puff of dry smoke and dust that burst forth. His voice was gone, and he was in no shape to perform that night at Reading. Bummed out beyond consolation, Jane’s Addiction brainstormed and came up with a plan: go back to the US, put together a farewell tour, and rock the bananas off of it and go out with a bang.

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With renewed fire, the boys in the band began coming up with groups they’d like to perform with. [lastfm]Dave Navarro[/lastfm]‘s pick was [lastfm]Siouxie and the Banshees[/lastfm]; he also wanted weirder and wilder collaborations than had ever been seen, like Farrell’s pick, [lastfm]Ice-T[/lastfm], performing his conglomerate metal-rap set. Geiger gave the [lastfm]Pixies[/lastfm] a slot, as well as [lastfm]Nine Inch Nails[/lastfm] and [lastfm]Fishbone[/lastfm]. Other bands were enthusiastically added to the list, like the [lastfm]Butthole Surfers[/lastfm], [lastfm]Rollins Band[/lastfm], [lastfm]Emergency Broadcast Network[/lastfm], [lastfm]Living Colour[/lastfm], and [lastfm]Violent Femmes[/lastfm]. The festival was quickly coming together just like they planned. In 1991, the show would go on, and they couldn’t wait.

Fast forward one more time to now, the summer of 2011: the 20th anniversary of this epic cluster of artists all performing together. In this video, Farrell takes evident pride in the fact that this festival has grown to have not one headliner, not two, not three, but six. It has just evolved that way to “make everybody happy”, says Lolla’s founder. He’s certainly done that, and more. In the last 20 years, he’s made careers and reputations with every lineup. But in the grand scheme of things, Lolla will always remember that summer of ’91 and its now small-looking but powerful lineup that started it all.


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