Today is the 39th birthday of Perry Farrell, co-founder of the Lollapalooza
festival and frontman for Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros. Farrell
is a seminal figure in the early '90s alt-rock explosion, having fronted
a band that bridged the gap between '80 heavy metal and '90s grunge-rock
and having co-founded a yearly multi-genre music festival that has spawned a legion of imitators.
Born Perry Bernstein in Queens, N.Y., the son of a jeweler father and an
artist mother, Farrell moved with his father to Miami following his
mother's suicide. He dropped out of college after a nervous breakdown and
soon began lip-synching and dancing in nightclubs, adopting the name Perry
Farrell as a play on the word "peripheral." His first band, a goth-rock
outfit called Psi Com, formed in 1981 but broke up in 1985, having released
only one album. Farrell was back in the swing of things within a year,
taking his place as the frontman of Jane's Addiction. With Dave Navarro on
guitar, Eric Avery on bass and Steve Perkins on drums, Jane's Addiction
took L.A.'s art-rock scene by storm, mixing the
energy of rockers such as Led Zeppelin with sounds and lyrics that bordered
on the psychedelic. Their self-titled debut, which contained such songs as
"Pigs In Zen" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil,"
came out in 1987, and the major labels came calling soon thereafter. The
group signed with Warner Bros. and released Nothing's Shocking in
1988, a classic alt-rock album that spawned such songs as "Jane Says,"
"Ocean Size" and "Up The Beach." The album was a hit on the college
charts and found the group being played on the only mainstream outlet that
would play them in those days, heavy-metal radio.
Jane's Addiction's introduction to the mainstream came with 1990's
Ritual De Lo Habitual. Fueled by the popularity of the album's
first single, "Been Caught Stealing," the album peaked at #19 on the
charts. The always flamboyant and quotable Farrell became
a mouth that the media turned to when looking for insight into Generation X, and the band's popularity continued to soar. Farrell co-founded the
Lollapalooza festival a year later, with Jane's Addiction headlining a day-long show that also featured Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band, Nine Inch
Nails, Body Count, Living Colour and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Jane's
Addiction disbanded at the conclusion of the tour, with Farrell and Perkins
moving on to form Porno for Pyros. Their self-titled debut was released in
1993 and spawned a minor hit with "Pets." The group played the Woodstock
'94 festival the next year and began trying to put together the ENIT
festival to limited success a few years later. Good God's Urge,
released in 1996, was a more acoustic and mystical affair than Farrell's
earlier work, but audiences and critics apparently enjoyed his electric
work much better. Late last year, Jane's Addiction "relapsed" to promote
an odds-and-sods collection entitled Kettle Whistle and toured the
U.S. with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea taking the place of Eric Avery.
Other birthdays: Vangelis, 55; Bobby Kimball (Toto), 51;
Bernard Georges (Throwing Muses), 33; and John Popper (Blues Traveler), 31.