The story of Warrant
Jani Lane: died from acute alcohol poisoning three years ago
The tragic death of Jani Lane in 2011 brought the former Warrant singer’s story to a sad close. On the day (February 1, 2014) that would have marked Lane’s 50th birthday, we trace the group’s rise through the LA rock ranks, celebrate their glory days and fondly remember a great songwriter and frontman.
Words: Dave Reynolds
Jani Lane, the former frontman of Warrant, was found dead from acute alcohol poisoning in a room at the Comfort Inn motel in Woodland Hills, California just before 5.30 pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011. He was 47 years old.
Lane’s tragic death came as a bolt out of the blue. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Warrant were the brightest new kids on the hair metal block. In reality, their heyday was at the tail-end of the 1980s, when their songs Heaven and Cherry Pie stormed the US singles charts. But Warrant’s success was short-lived. Just a few short years later, they couldn’t even get arrested…
Despite being perceived as the biggest casualty of the emergence of grunge, Warrant never actually went away and are still active today. Their most recent album, Rockaholic, was released through Frontiers Records in May 2011, although since 2008 former Cry Of Love/Lynch Mob/Big Cock vocalist Robert Mason has taken the place of Jani, who had been seen by some to be a somewhat tragic, erratic figure in rock circles over the last few years.
A little over three weeks prior to the discovery of his body, Ohio-born Lane (real name John Oswald) had been talking about Warrant with me at enthusiastic length for a piece in AOR magazine; I had previously spoken to bassist Jerry Dixon for the selfsame article a couple of weeks before.
Despite some saying he was difficult to get hold of, Jani had responded to my e-mail within 24 hours. He later pulled our scheduled chat forward by an hour as he told me that he had a doctor’s appointment he had to attend.
When I called Jani he sounded incredibly upbeat, happy to chat about Warrant and his part in the group’s success as their main songwriter. Having last parted company with the band in 2008, he also outlined future solo plans. So it was with huge sadness that I learned of his death.
This feature was to have been a celebration of Warrant’s contribution to the melodic rock scene over the years. I had never envisaged it might serve as an obituary, especially for a man with whom I had become well acquainted from interviewing him on many occasions over the last 20 years.
Former drummer for Akron band Cyren, Jani moved to Florida and played in a covers band called Dorian Grey for three years, before deciding to try his luck in Hollywood with drummer buddy Steven Sweet (aka Steven Chamberlain). Their band, Plain Jane, also comprised guitarist Paul ‘Mikki Doll’ Noble and bassist Al ‘Ally Katz’ Collins, both formerly of Broken English. LA’s Warrant, meanwhile, had been a going concern since the summer of 1984, formed by original vocalist Adam Shore and drummer Max Asher, who had named the group. They were joined by bassist Jerry Dixon, guitarist Josh Lewis and ex-Knightmare II axe maniac Erik Turner.