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Goodbye

Warrant Singer Jani Lane Found Dead

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Fri, Aug 12, 2011 at 7:13 AM
click to enlarge Janilane.jpg

Jani Lane, the lead singer for Hollywood glam metal band Warrant, was found dead last night at a Comfort Inn in Woodland Hills. Police responded to a 911 call around 5:30 pm, and fire department officials pronounced him dead shortly thereafter. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office is investigating the cause of death, which is not known at this time. He was 47.

Though they arrived late on the hair metal scene, Warrant was one of the most popular groups of the era, breaking through with their 1989 debut, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich. The album sold two million copies and had a seemingly endless string of radio hits, including "Down Boys" and the power ballads "Sometimes She Cries" and "Heaven." The group became best known, however, for their sophomore work Cherry Pie, which also went double platinum. Its lead, eponymous single famously featured model Bobbie Brown being hosed down by the group, dressed as firemen. Brown and Lane later wed, and had a daughter together before divorcing not long after.

Born and raised in northeastern Ohio, Lane met band mate Steven Sweet in Florida, and the pair moved to Los Angeles in the mid-'80s, joining Warrant -- which was founded by guitarist Erik Turner -- shortly thereafter. Lane was workmanlike in his approach, possessing neither spectacular pipes nor profound songwriting abilities. "One day I was sitting around thinking I want to write a song about ménage a trios...and the line 'love in stereo' came into my head," he once told Hit Parader magazine. "Inspiration can happen anywhere at any time."

But that hair. In an era that valued both highly misogynist lyrics and the sartorial approach of a streetwalker, Lane was capable of pulling off both, with a lithe figure, impressive locks, and an androgynous stage name. (Born February 1, 1964, shortly after the death of JFK, his given name was John Kennedy Oswald.)

Like most of the heavy metal lite bands that dominated radio in the late '80s and early '90s, Warrant's fortunes fell with the rise of grunge. The group's third album, 1992's Dog Eat Dog, would be their last on a major, going gold and quickly falling off of the charts. Though Warrant would remain active, their most recent release Rockaholic (on an obscure Italian label called Frontiers) featured a new lead singer, Lane having left the group in the late '00s. He had more recently been filling in as front man for Great White, and had also appeared with a cock rock supergroup called Scrap Metal, which featured members of Nelson, Slaughter, Winger and Journey.

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