Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair

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Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair

The Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair rock-music festivals, which toured the United States in the 1990s, revived the spirit of the most famous rock festival, 1969's Woodstock (see entry under 1960s—Music in volume 4) festival, for a new generation of fans. These touring festivals appealed to fans because they offered the opportunity to hear many different music groups perform during one period of time. The festivals brought thousands of fans together for several days in a small community that included food booths, games, rides, displays, and side shows featuring amateur performers.

Lollapalooza was founded in 1991 by Perry Farrell (1959–), a singer in the alternative rock (see entry under 1990s—Music in volume 5) bands Porno for Pyros and Jane's Addiction. Farrell wanted to create a forum where a diverse group of alternative bands could reach audiences nationwide. Prompted more by his enthusiasm for music than by desire for profit, Farrell was as surprised as his critics when the first Lollapalooza festival was hugely successful, drawing over six hundred thousand fans in twenty-one cities through the summer. The next years were equally successful, as musicians like Pearl Jam, IceT (1959–), Soundgarden, and Sinead O'Connor (1966–) performed on Lollapalooza stages. In 1996, Farrell left the festival, charging that it had become too commercial. That year, the festival headliner was the heavy metal (see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) group Metallica. The festival lost much of its diversity, booking mostly white male bands, and the 1996 and 1997 festivals were much less successful. In 1998, the festival was canceled and did not resume.

When singer Sarah McLachlan (1968–) could not convince her managers to book her on tour with other women's groups, she decided to found an all-women's touring festival. Music-industry heads were sure that Lilith Fair would not succeed, but its first season in the summer of 1997 was very successful. Playing in thirty-seven cities across the country, Lilith Fair was named the top festival tour for 1997, winning over much more established festivals like Lollapalooza. McLachlan booked young female acts with a feminist consciousness, such as Tracy Chapman (1964–), Suzanne Vega (1959–), Jewel (1974–), and the Indigo Girls, along with veterans like Emmylou Harris (1947–) and Bonnie Raitt (1949–). In 1998, the tour expanded to forty–seven cities. In 1999, after three years of festivals, McLachlan married and withdrew from organizing, and Lilith Fair too stopped.

—Tina Gianoulis

For More Information

Ali, Lorraine. "Backstage at Lilith." Rolling Stone (September 4, 1997): pp. 28–33.

Fricke, David. "Lollapalooza." Rolling Stone (September 19, 1991): pp. 9–13.

Lilith Fair 1999. (accessed April 8, 2002).

Neely, Kim. "Lollapalooza '92." Rolling Stone (September 17, 1992): pp. 60–65.

Online Diaries: The Lollapalooza '95 Tour Journals of Beck, Courtney Love, Stephen Malkmus, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Mike Watt, David Yow. New York: Soft Skull Press, 1996.