Jani Lane, of Warrant, dies; 'hair metal' generation recalls icon
Jani Lane, the lead singer for Hollywood metal band Warrant, was found dead in a Woodland Hills hotel on Thursday evening, and with the news, a whole generation is reliving some classics of the so-called "hair metal" era.
Warrant's biggest hits, "Cherry Pie," "Heaven" and "Sometimes She Cries," displayed the yin and yang of teenage desire: In "Cherry Pie," the group celebrated (objectified?) the female form by comparing it with a scrumptious dessert, and the result was a scream-along anthem tailor-made for testosterone-fueled pop metal heads and the women who loved them.
Like any self-respecting metal band, though, Warrant and the bleached-blond Lane had a softer side, one that you can see on full display in the video for "Heaven," in which the viewer is treated to a love ballad and slow-motion images of Lane and the band enjoying their rock-star lives. We see Lane showing off his tattoo, swinging around on a band member's back, performing at massive outdoor concerts, dancing in the back of a limousine, signing ecstatic fans' T-shirts and twirling in front of the mike stand, his perfectly coiffed hair shining like a lion's mane.
Lane and Warrant rose on the Sunset Strip circuit in the mid-1980s alongside kindred spirits Guns N' Roses, but, ironically, one of their early fans was funk singer Prince, who tried to sign the band to his Paisley Park imprint. The band ultimately signed with Columbia Records, and the label delivered.
They rode a wave of success through the early '90s. Lane parted ways with the band in 1993; grunge had replaced metal on the rock charts, and the band's hits stopped coming. But he and Warrant, or at least one of the many incarnations of the band reconciled a few times over the years for concerts. They last they performed together in 2008. A cause of death is not yet known, but Lane had struggled with addiction for much of his adult life.
Do you have memories of Warrant on the Sunset Strip (or anywhere else)? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.
-- Randall Roberts
Note: The original version of this post said that Lane last performed with Warrant in 2004. In fact, he last played with them in 2008. We have adjusted the text accordingly.
Photo: Warrant singer Jani Lane performs with Camp Freddy during the grand opening of the Empire Ballroom on Oct. 22, 2005, in Las Vegas. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images