Three decades of Lollapalooza: WXRT DJ looks back on the fest

Billy Idol and Steve Stevens perform during Day One of Lollapalooza 2005 at Grant Park in Chicago. Photo credit Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Lollapalooza starts Thursday, and a lot has changed since the musical festival first got its start in 1991 as a farewell tour for the band Jane’s Addiction.

Morning show host Marty Lennartz, from WBBM sister-station WXRT, remembered the touring festival's humble beginnings and the vision of its creator Perry Farrell.

“He came up with this idea that he should put together all these different bands,” he said. “Like-minded, somewhat diverse, but who all would fall under the tent of his tribe.”

Lennartz said WXRT was there from the beginning. The station, he recalled, emceed the stages and every single artist.

“We had a feeling that it was something really special, because nothing like that had existed before,” he said. “The only festivals we knew about were, like, Woodstock.”

One of the first festivals included the Red Hot Chili Peppers — which is returning as headliners this year — but, as Lennartz humorously pointed out, the band is more of “a heritage act now.”

Lollapalooza 2008
Dan Auerbach, of the Black Keys, performs at the 2008 Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park on Aug. 1, 2008, in Chicago. Photo credit Kevin Mazur/WireImage

That’s not the change Lolla has seen, he added. The festival began as a place primarily for alternative and underground musicians. As Lollapalooza’s brand grew, though, so did interest from other types of artists and fans.

“It's become much more of a pop festival, just judging by the artists who are playing,” he said. “I mean, this year, there's Billie Eilish and Karol G … It's really a reflection of what music is today.”

Lollapalooza, though, is still a festival where fans enjoy not only the music and artists they know, but they discover new artists, too.

Headed to the festival? Be sure to check out our quick guide for getting in, around and out of Lollapalooza this weekend.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage