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Lollapalooza: "It Was 20 Years Ago Today..."

It's kind of hard to imagine that Lallapalooza is 20 years-old. I wasn't in attendance in 1991, but the event still feels like a cultural touchstone for me (due in no small part to the "Homerpalooza" episode of The Simpsons, which introduced me to Sonic Youth, and cemented my growing love for The Smashing Pumpkins).

The Phoenix area (Chandler, specifically) holds a special place in 'Lolla history, as detailed in last month's issue of Spin Magazine . The festival launched here in our very state, on July 18, at Compton Terrace, a venue owned at the time by Jess and Gene Nicks, the father and uncle of Stevie Nicks.

The issue features interviews with Lollapalooza organizers, Nine Inch Nails guitarist Richard Patrick, Butthole Surfers' Gilby Haynes (who describes Tempe as "just a flat, thankless expanse of land. Fucking miserable...") and promoter Danny Zelisko, who summarizes, about Nine Inch Nails' set, "...they weren't into their set more than a minute or two when shit started screwing up."

To celebrate Lollapalooza's birthday (almost old enough to drink), we decided to catch up with the seven bands/artists who made up the original lineup. 

Lollapalooza ceased being a touring festival in 1997, taking a break and returning in 2005 as a three day event each year since 2005 at Grant Park in Chicago. This year saw the birth of Lollapalooza Chile in April, and this year's festival takes place over the weekend of August 5-7, and will feature performances by Foo Fighters, Girl Talk, Coldplay, and a ton more.

The original lineup was a lot smaller, but no less rocking, featuring Nine Inch Nails, The Rollins Band, Ice-T, The Butthole Surfers, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Living Color, and Jane's Addiction.

So what are the bands that performed at the original Lollapalooza up to now? Read on to find out.

Nine Inch Nails' set at the inaugural Lollapalooza was plagued with technical problems, but things have gone pretty well for Trent Reznor and company since. The band has been nominated for 12 Grammy Awards, and has won twice (for "Wish" and "Happiness is Slavery").

Reznor won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award last year, for his soundtrack to The Social Network, which was released by The Null Corporation, the label he launched after Nine Inch Nails split with Interscope. Reznor has put Nine Inch Nails on the backburner as of late, focusing on his band How to Destroy Angels, and is currently working on another soundtrack, for David Fincher's upcoming remake of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Henry Rollins

The Rollins Band is no longer in operation, but Henry Rollins has maintained a breakneck production pace.

In addition to performing spoken word, acting in Sons of Anarchy and the Jackass films (guess he isn't really acting in the latter), and penning books, Rollins writes for our sister paper LA Weekly, and contributes to the paper's music blog, West Coast Sound.

As if that wasn't enough, he hosts a fantastic radio show on KCRW, where he plays damn well whatever he wants -- from punk, metal, and rock to obscure world and jazz cuts. His boundless enthusiasm makes for a great listening experience.


Ice-T and his band Body Count courted serious controversy with their song "Cop Killer," but since 2000, Ice has been busy portraying a cop on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

Understandably, he hasn't been focusing on music too much, but his 2006 album Gangsta Rap proved that the dude's still in the "pissing people off" business. The record's cover featured Ice and his wife, Nicole "Coco" Austin sprawled naked across a bed, which prompted some retailers to attempt to censor the cover.

Last year, he involved himself in a beef with Aimee Mann over Twitter. Mann disparaged his acting ability via the mini-blogging platform, which provoked Ice-T to respond that Mann should "eat a hot bowl of dicks."

Clearly, the guy knows how to press buttons.

The Butthole Surfers

In addition to having one of the best band names of all time, the Surfers are firmly entrenched as American underground rock legends. The band has played off and on in the 2000s, with a reunited '86-'89 lineup. The band played All Tomorrow's Parties in 2008, and apparently, ATP organizer Barry Hogan wasn't a big fan of their behavior. He told the Village Voice: "Killing Joke and the Butthole Surfers will never play ATP again, and they can both suck my balls. And you can put that in print."

The band played two dates in Austin last year, and rumors persist that the band may issue a new record in the future.

Siouxsie and the Banshees
Siouxsie and the Banshees broke up after 1995's The Rapture, but members Siouxsie and her husband Budgie have continued on as The Creatures. The Banshees reunited briefly in 2002, and a live record/film titled Seven Year Itch documents that tour. Siouxsie and Budgie divorced in 2007, and she released a solo album, Mantaray, that year, which featured jazzy numbers, as well as gothy, angsty tunes.

Siouxsie and the Bashees' influence on goth-rock lingers on, and the band's catalog has been steadily reissued. The group's most recent release, At the BBC, features live tracks recorded during the band's twenty year tenure.

Living Colour

Best known for their huge hit "Cult of Personality," Living Colour has recently spent a lot of time paying tribute to one of rock's most enduring personalities, Jimi Hendrix. We spoke with bassist Doug Wimbish earlier this year before the band took the stage at Mesa Arts Center as a part of the Experience Hendrix tour.

The band has taken some time off since that 'Lolla date, but has reunited. "There were certain things that needed to be cleared up...but mostly, it was fear -- 'Maybe I should call Vernon, but I'm afraid' or 'Maybe our music isn't what the industry's looking for right now''s getting over the fear of being successful, of not being successful, of having to see that person you've been trying to avoid," said Wimbish. "The fear of not being honest with each other kept circulating. But if you engage your fear collectively with your mates, then it becomes fun."

The very first Lollapalooza was actually built around the idea that it would be Jane's Addiciton's farewell tour, but the band has reunited a couple times since 1991. The band issued Strays in 2003, but the band broke soon after that record was finished.

Singer Perry Farrell has been involved with Lollapalooza since the festival's inception, overseeing the shift from a touring bonanza to stationary event, and Jane's is set to release a brand new album this year, The Great Escape Artist, which features TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek on bass guitar.

The first single, "End to the Lies," is pretty good, (that video link is NSFW; with Jane's, you're always going to get some boobs and butts, 'natch) so who knows, maybe the band will keep things together for a little while this go around. If Jane's Addiction and Lollapalooza have taught us anything, it's that it's hard to keep a good idea down.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.