Warrant – The Ballad of Jani Lane – tiny curations
This episode has been published and can be heard everywhere your podcast is available.
DEEP DIVES & tiny curations Podcast Episodes Available Today:
- I Saw Red (Acoustic Version)
- Blind Faith
- The Bitter Pill
- Mr. Rainmaker
- Let It Rain
- Stronger Now
- LA Guns – The Ballad of Lane – Key Club Hollywood (Jani Lane Memorial) 08-29-2011
Warrant a glam metal band from Hollywood California, hit it big in the late eighties. Right out of the gates off of Sunset Strip with their debut album, 1989’s “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich”, D.R.F.S.R., also a song on the album. First single off the album, was “Down Boys”. But the second single was the ballad “Heaven”; it went to #2. It was denied the #1 position by Milli Vanilli’s “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”, so in hindsight, if the Grammy can be stripped from Milli Vanilli, seems that Heaven should be rewarded with the #1 spot. The album spawned other hit singes as well, “Big Talk” and another ballad “Sometimes She Cries”. And a fan favorite, “32 Pennies” in a Ragu jar…
The band consisted of former Plain Jane band members Jani Lane on vocals and Steven Sweet on drums. Along with Joey Allen on lead guitar, Erik Turner on rhythm guitar, and Jerry Dixon on bass.
The following year in 1990, they would release their follow-up to “D.R.F.S.R.”, “Cherry Pie”. The title song “Cherry Pie” is the song that would define the band, even bigger than the success of “Heaven”.
The song was a last minute addition, due to record management insistence to have a new sort of ‘rock anthem’ added to the album for marketability of the new record. So, Jani sits down and pens the track in 15 minutes.
This is one of the rare cases of a Music Exec being right, but it was Jani’s brilliance that made this tongue in cheek song such a mega hit!
The other bandmates weren’t even around the studio at the time, so it was recorded like much of the album and like “D.R.F.S.R.”, with studio musicians… this I just learned. And they even work in the title to their previous album, “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich”!
Although, it is commonly known that the ‘trained professional’ reference is to none other than C.C. DeVille of Poison. CC is responsible for those licks and solo in Cherry Pie. This didn’t help much with all of their comparison’s of sound and appearance to Poison or due to the fact that they were touring partners.
But “Cherry Pie” would be the song that Jani would come to resent and hate.
It you google “Jani Lane ha”, “tes Cherry Pie” comes up and autofills in the search bar for “Jani Lane hates Cherry Pie”.
He regretted writing the song, because he felt that it delegitimized him as a songwriter. That and that we would be remembered for this one song, “Cherry Pie”. He shared his disdain about the song on a VHI interview, by saying “I could shoot myself in the fucking head for writing that song”. He hated that he would be known for that song and be forever known as, the “Cherry Pie guy”.
As for the video, what a video! Every teenage boys dream with enough cheese to match those naughty lyrics! Bobbi Brown, had been around, but it was here in this video that she would leave her mark. She and Jani met on set and began dating and married the following year. The had a daughter the very next year, then divorced the year after that.
Afterwards, she would go on to be engaged to Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. After a couple years, they broke up. Four days after their breakup, Tommy would meet Pamela Anderson, but that’s another story. And that story, “Pam and Tommy” will featured in a new miniseries to be released on Hulu soon.
If you want to see Bobbi now, she did a video, which is a total homage to the Warrant “Cherry Pie” video, it is with Steel Panther, for their cover of “She’s Tight” by Cheap Trick and featuring Robin Zander.
Steel Panther is now somewhat a legitimate rock band and certainly keeping the glam flame alive; and at the same time, they are still a parody of 80’s hair metal, Hair Nation! In 2007, despite the members of Steel Panther repeatedly calling him the “Cherry Pie” guy, Jani joined Steel Panther onstage and played “Down Boys”, but also “Cherry Pie”, much to the crowds chagrin.
Back to the album, as good as “D.R.F.S.R.” was, “Cherry Pie” was even better! With more deep dive hits, but still no filer. These were the times of the parental advisory stickers and they got one for this album for their “Ode to Tipper Gore”, Al’s wife, who would lead the charge against obscenity.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is one of my favorites and was intended to be the lead single, until the “Cherry Pie” song came along.
“I Saw Red” was their next single; there were was the album version and B-side acoustic version. There was a video for each version playing on MTV at the time.
Let’s hear the acoustic version of that ballad now:
“I Saw Red” was inspired by the true story, while Warrant was recording “D.R.F.S.R.”. Jani walked in on his girlfriend and his best friend in bed together. This would lead to a nervous breakdown that would result in halting of recording of the album and delaying the release, while Jani recovered.
“Blind Faith” after “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was the 4th and last singe off of the “Cherry Pie” album and here it is now.
The very next year, in 1992 Warrant releases “Dog Eat Dog”, personally my favorite Warrant album and the last album to feature all five original members.
The liner notes contained the following, which seemed kind of strange at the time: “no artist, except those listed, performed on this album in any capacity whatsoever”. And Jani Lane went further and included this too in his liner notes section: “This album is dedicated to Joey Allen, one of the most under-rated guitarists in rock today.” Apparently, the rumors that Joey Allen and Erik Turner had not played on the first two Warrant albums had come home to roost.
With singles “Machine Gun”, “The Bitter Pill”, “The Hole in My Wall”, and “Inside Out”. This effort was completely underrated or better yet, just underheard, as Nirvana and the grunge scene was the big genre disrupter in the later half of 1991.
I remember catching White Zombie at the Backroom in Austin, I was too young to get in, but waited outside the club. The band members go in through the backstage doors into the venue and you hear thumping drums, bass, and guitar. Rob Zombie approaches the door, I’m the only one standing there. He asks me if I’m going in for the show. I told him that I was too young, he goes “Wait here, I’ll be right back” and goes through the door. Never thinking that I would ever see him again, nor the show. He soon came back through the door and throws his arm around me and we walk into the venue together, he says “Have Fun” and goes up onto the stage just in time to join the band with his vocals for “Soul Crusher”.
I was in heaven, in the pit!
Later in the set and in between songs, Zombie tells the crowd, “Did you hear what happened today? Warrant got dropped from their label!”. The crowd goes nuts, myself included. It hindsight, I’m not very proud of doing that and cheering on my new favorite band at the expense of my ex-favorite band, but it felt like we were in the middle of a music revolution and I got caught up in the moment.
My cousin and I had even met guitarist Joey Allen and bassist Jerry Dixon one night when we were in our teens at the nicest hotel in Austin at the time, the Hyatt. We had some ‘girl friends’ that we used to talk with on the phone, call us one night and tip us off. They had been down at the Hyatt, as this was the place to go for a special occasion for dinner, because they had Austin’s own dish and claim to fame, fajitas. The dish would be delivered to your table on a steaming iron platter. Don’t believe me about the fajitas, look it up, it came from Aqua Fest, that was held at Auditorium shores. The Hyatt, same side of the Town Lake just down a couple of intersections.
Anyhow, the girls told us that they had been down at the Hyatt and seen the band members of Poison around the hotel and their buses, as they were playing the following night at the Erwin Center with Warrant as the opening act, this must have been around the time right before the release of “Cherry Pie”. We rushed down to the hotel and found ourselves in an elevator with Joey and Jerry. Joey told us that he had just gotten the new fresh tattoo upstairs in his room from a local tattoo artist. If you have ever seen his guitar playing before it is the tattoo on his right top forearm where it looks like the skin has been torn open to reveal a robotic arm, like from Star Wars or the Terminator movies.
I’ll put the photo in the show notes for posterity.
But what Zombie said was true, Warrant had returned from their “Dog Eat Dog” tour, Jani had left the band to start a brief solo career, then they were dropped from their label. Even before this, the band was back to playing clubs, instead of stadiums. I caught them around this time at the Backroom. This is the club that Warrant would go after each show in Austin, they would announce it at the end of their set and invite everybody to come drink with them after the show, I saw them do it twice, once when opening for Mötley Crüe and again opening for Poison, both at the Frank Erwin Center, the largest arena in Austin. We couldn’t ever go and join the fun, we were just too young, not even 18 yet. But on this night, when they were now playing the club, rather than simply going there for the afterparty, I remember Jani saying something like this between songs “I knew a change was coming, when I walked into the offices at Columbia Records and found that a large framed “Cherry Pie” poster that hung in the foyer had been replaced with “Alice in Chains” for their new album “Dirt” and he realized ‘the proverbial writing [was] on the wall” for the band.’
This was the same time, ’94 and ’95, when all of the glam metal bands that were used to playing arenas were playing intimate small clubs again. You could see Cinderella at the Backroom or catch Mötley Crüe at the tiny Austin Music Hall.
“The Bitter Pill”, the second single off of “Dog Eat Dog” also got the “I Saw Red” video treatment, with a video for album single version and a video for the acoustic version, just featuring Jani Lane again. Here is that gem now:
Jani would return to Warrant and the band would set out to tour again.
Warrant would release “Ultraphobic” in 1995. This album was much harder, less focused, and heavily influenced by the sea change of grunge.
Next Warrant would release some “Greatest Hits” album, then “Belly to Belly” which too was heavily grunge influenced. A live album, then “Under the Influence” a covers album. Afterwards, Jani would finally release his first solo album “Back Down to One” after his unreleased “Jabberwocky” project floated around on Napster for years. His solo effort was back to sounding more like the pre-grunge Warrant days, which was good. Shortly after the release of the album, Jani would go into rehab. When he emerges from rehab, he quits Warrant again. And starts his own version of Warrant, but is blocked by legal action from his former bandmates.
Warrant then hires a new singer, releases an album. But in 2008, a Warrant reunion with the classic Warrant line-up would take place with Jani Lane rejoining the band, but was out for good after that tour ended for a lack of sobriety. It may have been around this time that I caught Warrant again at the Backroom, I think this is when he would wear the Dickies Long Sleeve Coveralls jumper outfits. He is so drunk that he is puking off to the side of the stage.
And I was able to catch Warrant one last time together at the Dirty Dog on 6th Street with some other 80’s bands. We got to catch up with those guys we had met years earlier as kids, but not Jani. Joey and Jerry told us that if we wanted to hang out with Jani, go down to the bar and drink with him and that we could find him there. There he was, but surrounded by women, of course.
Warrant would go on without Jani Lane and hire yet another new singer and release another album, as they still are together touring and releasing new material these days.
Let’s put the cherry on top and listen to another deep track from the “Cherry Pie” album, here is “Mr. Rainmaker”:
That was “Quicksand” and before that was “Let it Rain”, both off of 1992’s “Dog Eat Dog” album.
There was some other stuff that would come to light in the news last year from his ex-wife Bobbi Brown and there is some recorded audio from Jani’s own mouth to support it, but that’s as much of that that I want to get in here.
Starting in the Summer of 2010, Jani Lane would fill in for Jack Russell, and sing vocals on tour with Great White. The last show that Jani would play fronting Great White would be on New Years Eve of that year. And as far as I can tell, this was Jani’s last performance. In early 2011, he cancelled his planned solo tour and seemed to fall off the face of the earth.
As his demons would catch up to him. On August 11, 2011, ten years ago today, the Los Angeles Police Department would announce that Jani Lane age 41, former lead singer of Warrant had been found dead at a Comfort Inn motel room on Ventura Blvd along with pills and a half bottle of vodka found in his room. He died of acute alcohol poisoning. He was known to go to hotels in an attempt to dry out. He never carried any formal identification, but friends were known to often leave notes on him, in case he was found somewhere passed out. There was a note in his pocket with a phone number and only these words, “I am Jani Lane.”
Here is the last ballad, “Stronger Now”, off of ’95’s “Ultraphobic” album, there were some singles off of that album, but “Stronger Now” was my favorite:
Jani once said this in an interview:
“”It sucks that I get labeled as a ballad writer, but I figure, if I write good ballads, then screw it, I write good ballads. I’ve never been one of those people that think if it’s not X amount heavy, that it’s not cool. The people who disrespect me because I don’t apologize for writing a ballad now and then, I just can’t relate to that. Seriously, if anyone ever walked up to me and said ‘The Long and Winding Road’ is a wimp song. I’d probably hit ’em! I like both extremes – the heavy metal and the ballads. A good song is a good song.”
Rest in Pease. This was the Ballad of Jani Lane.
Thanks for listening.
There is a bench in Akron, Ohio dedicated to John P. Oswald. That reads:
In Memory of The Song & Dance Man, Jani Lane
“Whether you knew him as John, Ozzie, or Jani Lane, he was a Proud Father, Son, Husband, Uncle, Brother, and Friend.
He loved his daughters so very much. He was a Worldwide Entertainer, a Shooting Star.
Jani was a musical inspiration to countless individuals.
He was a huge talent whose words and music touched the hearts of millions around the world.
Cherished by his fans, such an amazing talent and wonderful friend, he will be missed.
Jani lives on through the words and music he left behind.”
dedicated by the Suffield League in 2013.
And from local paper the “Record-Courier”:
“Oswald, a 1982 graduate of Field Local Schools, rose to fame under the name Jani Lane as the lead singer/songwriter of the hair metal group Warrant. The band, which saw international success, sold close to 10 million albums, had five top 40 Billboard hits, nine top 100 Billboard hits and five number 1 MTV music videos. Oswald performed more than 1,000 shows since age 11, and inspired many to live through his music. He died on Aug. 11, 2011.”
A Jani Lane memorial was planned as a public memorial and free concert with former 1st wife Bobbi Brown and others, as well as performances by the band that he had recently fronted Great White; along with Quiet Riot, Enuff Z’Nuff and L.A. Guns was held on August 29, 2011 at the Key Club in Hollywood. Here is Phil Lewis and L.A. Guns doing an altered rendition of their 80’s smash hit acoustic ballad “The Ballad of Jayne” about the tragic auto accident and death of Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield in 1967.
However, the lyrics had been changed to suit Lani Lane, and here is that song as they performed that night at the memorial, here is “The Ballad of Jani Lane”: