Lollapalooza Lookback 1992: Meet Pearl Jam

In the fest's early years, Perry Farrell and co-founder Ted Gardner talked about the 'great little band from Seattle.'

For nearly 20 years now, Lollapalooza has been an annual rite of passage for the tattooed-and-pierced masses (whom we used to call “Alternative Nation”), a summertime extravaganza that showcased the best and brightest bands, and — more importantly — brought them to your hometown. Back when Lolla first started, this was a positively revolutionary idea.

And though things changed over the years — the names (and the crowds) got bigger, the festival went dark from 1998-2002, then found new life (and a permanent home) in Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005 — the idea behind Lollapalooza has remained the same throughout: find the coolest acts regardless of genre, throw ‘em on a stage and get out of the way. It hasn’t always been pretty, but along the way, it’s led to some pretty magical moments over the past two decades, to be sure.

As luck would have it, MTV News has been there to capture most of them. So, with the 2010 edition of Lollapalooza set to kick off Friday (August 6), we decided to dive deep into our archives and dig up the greatest/weirdest/scariest/downright rocking-est moments in its rather epic history. We’re calling it “Lollapalooza Lookback,” and we think it’s a pretty fitting tribute to the granddaddy of American music festivals.

1992: Perry Farrell Reveals Lollapalooza’s Lineup

Back in 1992, Perry Farrell had just parted ways with Jane’s Addiction (who had headlined the first Lollapalooza the previous summer), and was still a year away from unveiling his new Porno for Pyros project. That meant he had plenty of time to focus on the second edition of Lolla, which he intended to be not just an annual celebration of music, but of youth culture too.

So, when MTV News sat down with him and Lollapalooza co-founder Ted Gardner in Los Angeles that May, Farrell was full of big ideas for that summer’s festival. He planned to have everything from “cyber-punk tents” and Timothy Leary-sponsored computer raves aimed at, as he put it, “taking computers and making people high” to debates between Democratic presidential hopefuls Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown. The idea was to make Lollapalooza “a coffeehouse for the youth to discuss what’s going on in their lifetimes,” and while it may seem far-fetched today, back in the heady days of the early ’90s, all of this seemed not only possible, but downright imminent.

But aside from expanding America’s social consciousness, Farrell had also been working overtime to assemble a positively epic bill for Lolla ’92, with a main stage that included legends like Lush and the Jesus and Mary Chain, industrial heavyweights Ministry, West Coast figurehead Ice Cube (who was still some six months away from unleashing his massive album The Predator), the iconic Red Hot Chili Peppers — still riding high on the breakout success of Blood Sugar Sex Magik — and … in afternoon/early evening slots, a pair of bands named Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Both acts would go on to do much bigger things, but that spring they were just two of Farrell’s and Gardner’s favorite bands (Gardner even jokingly refers to Eddie Vedder and company as “a great little band from Seattle, Washington”). And though — much like cyber-punk tents and computerized freak-outs — the idea of either band pulling mid-card duty seems pretty laughable today, you’ve got to remember, this was ’92. This was Lollapalooza. Things were different then.

Make sure to come back to MTVNews.com on Tuesday for the second installment of Lollapalooza Lookback, which features a very young (very angry) band of industrial pioneers just discovering their stage-trashing powers. Nine Inch Nails, anyone?

Are you going to Lollapalooza this year? Who are you most excited to see? Talk about it in the comments!