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Ian O’Connor

Twenty years after the inception of Lollapalooza, founding father and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell explains how it all began and why it's still going strong.

Perry Farrell has always been a sonic prophet, possessing an uncanny ability to look into his loopy crystal ball and see the future of music. Such insight was never more evident than with ?Lollapalooza, the traveling music festival tour he conceived as a sound off for one of alternative rock’s most influential bands, Jane’s Addiction, in 1991. But here we are 20 years later, and it seems Farrell’s prophesying has gone cold. Backstage at Lollapalooza Chile in Santiago (the first time the festival has traveled beyond U.S. borders), Farrell decides it’s a good idea to do an interview while hanging out with his two kids, 8-year-old Hezron and 6-year-old Izzadore, inside the festival’s built-in kiddie park, appropriately titled Kidzapalooza. Bad idea.
  • Image about Music 47 1
Ian O’Connor

Within minutes, Farrell is mobbed by a Latin fan club — an emotional bunch — most of whom are using their kids as ?mediums to get his attention. It’s mostly good-?hearted, though, as many Chileans want nothing more than to tell Farrell “gracias” for bringing his pioneering music festival to the world’s narrowest country. Still, handlers grow increasingly concerned as the crowd approaches Beatlemania levels, and security is called in to restore order. Farrell and entourage are then whisked away to the safer confines of the backstage area. Lesson learned.
Besides the quick tutorial in mob mentality, the irony of the situation is palpable: Farrell, the lead singer of Jane’s Addiction, a band that helped to pioneer eccentric sights and sounds far outside the mainstream, has become a messiah of sorts for the masses. He is keeping the dream alive in a day and age where some kids think music is born on an iPod. Twenty years ago today, who would have thought it? Well, Farrell, that’s who.

The two-day Chilean Lollapalooza in April acted as a cultural attaché for the 20th-anniversary American counterpart, set for Aug. 5-7 in Chicago’s Grant Park. Several South American bands are heading north for the Chicago edition, including local favorites Chico Trujillo, Los Bunkers and Ana Tijoux, and they will join a wallop of a lineup that includes Eminem, Coldplay and Foo Fighters. It’s an astonishing feat if you think about it: These days, what in music lasts 20 years? Maybe a well-built Fender? Not much else.