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Festival Flashback: Lollapalooza Had Roots in Tinley Park

The legendary music festival that plays this weekend in Chicago debuted in 1991 and made a stop at the World Music Theater in Tinley.

"The idea of hearing different music all day long was just awesome and very Woodstock like to us. When Jane's Addiction and (others) came on, it was crazy in our area! Just like the old days of the indoor (amphitheater), we stood one foot on the back of our chair and one on the back of the chair in front of us, buzzed, balanced and jamming! The night cooled and the day's sweat blew away, leaving a chill, or maybe it was the old memories?" — "Ilyse Brainin," writing on the Lollapalooza website

... I will never forget the honor of attending the first Lollapalooza ... — micheletorner 


Lollapalooza opens today in Grant Park for a three-day, sold-out festival that's become one of the most legendary—and lucrative— events in the modern music world.

But Tinley Park left its imprint on the event's DNA. Tinley's World Music Theater, now known as the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, hosted the then-traveling fest on the Chicago leg of its first tour, back on Aug. 3, 1991.

Even in that debut year, the event's name commanded attention, recalled Patrick E. Rea, then chairman of Tinley Park's Finance and Economic Development Committee.

"At the time, we recognized them as being an attraction," said Rea, now Tinley Park's village clerk.

"We were happy they were here. You hear a Lollapalooza's coming, even if it's a chess match, you're going to stop and pay attention."

Tinley Joined Outdoor Theater Boom

Tinley Park was positioned to host the 1991 inaugural Lollapalooza tour because of its earlier commitment to the construction of the World Music Theater.

That big move paid off for the village, Rea said.

"Negotiation began in the late 1980s. That was the era of large outdoor theaters," he said.

"There was Poplar Creek, between Arlington Heights and Rockford, there was one in southern Wisconsin (Alpine Valley). The belief was that the future of major acts would be in outdoor theaters," Rea recalled. 

"Then Jam Productions—and that's who booked Lollapalooza—and others came to the village and said, you have the proper location at the intersection of I-57 and I-80."

An Edgier Fest in Tinley

Ironically, the event was likely more cutting edge when it played in Tinley Park then it is today in Grant Park.

"The original version of Lollapalooza was this touring fest, founded in part by (singer) Perry Farrell, in the band Jane's Addiction," said Kyle Barnett, a research fellow at Bellarmine University's Institute for Media, Culture and Ethics in Louisville, Ky. 

"Lollapalooza is not cutting edge anymore, but it tries to walk the line with tried-and-true bands that older fans will like, with newer groups," Barnett said.

Still, there's no denying the event's staying power.  

"These festivals have been a money-maker during a time in which the recording industry is collapsing and even live music is taking serious hits," Barnett said.

Music historians have commented that the alternative music groups that played Lollapalooza in Tinley Park in 1991 typically gained fame and fortune from the association with the tour.

"It was the kind of music that caused a good deal of excitement at the time," Rea said. "If we were at the front end of a music phenomenom, we were happy to be there."

Here's a look at the musical acts from the 1991 Lollapalooza tour, and what they've been up to lately: 

Jane’s Addiction: They have a new album, “The Great Escape,” scheduled for release Sept. 27.

Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor claimed a Golden Globe and Oscar for his music in the film The Social Network.

Siouxsie & the Banshees: Siouxsie had an album in 2007 titled MantaRay.

Living Colour: The band got back together in 2000.

Ice-T & Body Count: Ice-T starred in the movie New Jack City the same year he joined Lollapalooza, and he now appears on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The Butthole Surfers: The Texas punk band recorded their last album in 2001.

Rollins Band: Henry Rollins has starred in TV shows, including Sons of Anarchy.

The Violent Femmes: The group continues to tour.

Fishbone: The band had a hit album with 1991’s The Reality of My Surroundings and continues to perform and record.

Gary Middendorf August 06, 2011 at 04:12 PM
I went to the '92 (at Alpine Valley) and '94 (in Tinley Park) shows. Top 2 tours by far. Although I did get a tshirt from a friend from the '91 tour.
michael malek May 07, 2012 at 02:03 AM
i saw the beastie boys in 1994 in Tinley Park. The smashing pumpkins headlined the show it was outstanding. i love that place. I get excited going there. I also saw dave matthews there in 1995 at the horde festival. i go there at least 2 times a summer and i love the vans warped tours there. When i die i want my ashes spread there. Its my favorite place in the whole wide world to go ever.

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