I feel a bit compelled to write something quick about Jani Lane and his untimely death. I grew up listening to Warrant, and although it’s not cool to admit it, I must have listened to their first three albums a million times over.
They weren’t as “heavy” as the Crue, but they weren’t as “poseur” as Poison was. Even though their biggest hit is now considered a novelty song, Warrant made some pretty decent records during a time when image was more important than songwriting.
A friend of mine who worked at Columbia Records (Warrant’s record label during the band’s heyday) told me a quick story about the day Warrant became fully aware that their days were numbered. After the massive worldwide success of Cherry Pie, Columbia Records honored the band by placing a gorgeous mulit-platinum sales award plaque right outside of the elevator doors. It was the first thing anyone would see when they stepped on to the Columbia Records floor in the Sony Music building.
Apparently it was there for quite some time. As the success of Cherry Pie started to dwindle, a phenomenon called “grunge” was taking shape in Seattle ultimately preparing to kill “Hair Metal” dead in its tracks. Warrant would return to the Columbia offices after taking a short break between albums to discuss their third record. They entered the building and took the elevator to the Columbia Records floor. As the elevator doors opened, the band were surprised to see that their Cherry Pie platinum album had been replaced with a gold record from Alice in Chains.
The band would end up recording one more album for Columbia before parting ways; the terribly underrated Dog Eat Dog. For those who missed this one from jumping on the grunge bandwagon and never looking back, Dog Eat Dog was a heavy, heavy record. Warrant had done their best to adopt a more aggressive sound, and they did it well, but no one would listen. Maybe that’s the curse of constantly trying to match the success one of the biggest songs of all time, or constantly wondering what went wrong. I guess we’ll never really know.
RIP Jani Lane, you gave us some fine hair metal and I still play it regularly.
Here’s what I will be playing in tribute today, from my personal vinyl collection:
Were you a Warrant fan in the late 80s/ early 90s? What’s your favorite Warrant memory?