Warrant singer Jani Lane passed away on Thursday under mysterious circumstances at a Comfort Inn in California’s San Fernando Valley. He was 47. One of a legion of bands signed in Poison’s wake, Warrant were less dangerous than bands like Mötley Crüe or Guns ‘N’ Roses. Back in Warrant’s heyday, the more your band looked like a bunch of chicks, the more chicks your band got.
Warrant and their ilk enjoyed a brief spot in the sunshine until Nirvana came along and mucked everything up. After the first four chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rang in the ears of every male between the ages of 10 and 16, the writing was on the wall: Hair metal was deader than disco. Now record audiences wanted guys who looked more like the pizza deliveryman than their big sister’s hairdresser. Still, Jani Lane and Warrant soldiered on. They ditched spandex and big hair for sleeveless designer flannel shirts and adopted (at least what they considered to be) a rougher, rawer sound. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
The band split from their singer in 2004, briefly reuniting in 2008, but at the time of his death Jani was working on solo records, a hair metal supergroup with members of Ratt and Alice Cooper’s touring band called Saints of the Underground and filling in on vocal duties over at Great White. An appearance on Celebrity Fit Club aside, Lane was never able to capitalize on nostalgia for all things Aqua Net.
Lane stands as an example of perseverance in choosing to do what you love in an industry more interested in finding the next big thing. All jokes about mascara and lipstick aside, Jani Lane possessed the unquestionably manly quality of getting up and giving it his all after every time the vagaries of popular taste knocked him on his ass.