When I saw the news that Jani Lane, the lead singer of Warrant, had finally lost his battle against alcoholism at the age of 47, I was shocked for about half a second, then reality quickly set in.
He’d been fighting addiction for a long time, and past a certain point there was the unfortunate feeling things would end badly with him.
Back in the eighties, if you were into the real heavy stuff like Metallica, Slayer, etc., bands like Warrant were the enemy, but many years after many of our generation outgrew our childish high school “heavier than thou” nonsense, it’s clear that Jani was truly a very talented guy, a sentiment echoed by many who are paying tribute to him on the ‘Net in his passing.
Where a lot of bands from the eighties were all Aqua Net and no tunes, Lane absolutely had the goods as a songwriter and a frontman.
Like many of the eighties hair bands, Warrant had a hard fall from grace in the ’90’s, and like a lot of the bands that Nirvana put out of business, there was certainly a degree of bitterness that came with it, but on good days Jani also had a good sense of humor.
Sadly, Lane also had terrible demons he just couldn’t get a grip on, and his addiction killed everything of value in his life. He had another shot at rejoining Warrant several years ago, and at first he started off well with them, but by the end of the tour he fell back into his old habits and was fired. (Lane was also married three times and left four children behind.)
Although I wasn’t a Warrant fan, I interviewed two of the members for my book Bang Your Head, and liked them both a great deal, which I hope proves a lesson to writers that you should never go into interviewing anyone with any preconceived ideas or agendas. It certainly taught me a lesson in this regard.
And to paraphrase what Lane said in my book about Warrant, for every band that has something serious and important to say, there should be a band whose music is a lot of fun that you can have a good time with. If you listen to Lane’s music in his memory this weekend, here’s hoping a good time is what you’ll have.