Jani Lane, lead singer for the 80s hairband Warrant always seemed to be larger than life. The news that he was found dead in a hotel room on August 11, 2011 cut fans to the quick. While the band was probably most famous for their song “Cherry Pie,” it was not their only song, or even their best song. Jani Lane’s music could touch the very soul of his listeners, and to this woman who lived through the hairband days, he was more than a rock star he was a fantasy.
I spent much of my life hiding my love for hairband music. It was a genre of music my family frowned on, and in fact, I was forbidden to listen to it. Perhaps my parents’ ultimatum is what first drew me to Jani’s bad boy looks and sugary voice, or maybe it was just my rebellious side.
I remember the first time I heard, “Sometimes She Cries.” I was with my best friend Michelle. We were sitting in her room stuck to her bean bag chair as usual. We had put her copy of “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” into her cassette player and split the head phones so we could both hear. I grasped my copy of our favorite Heavy Metal magazine, so we could stare at a picture of Jani, and Michelle fast forwarded the cassette to the song she wanted me to hear. The intro played and my heart began to beat, then Jani’s voice resounded through the speakers. The words, “Melissa don’t think she’s pretty no more” floated above the guitars and drums. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard.
Warrant’s music always seemed to mimic my moods. “I Saw Red” became my personal anthem when I went through that horrible teenage romance phase. It was a time of love, first kisses, steamy truck windows and broken hearts. My poet’s soul understood the words he sang, “If the sun should ever fail to send its light, we would burn a thousand candles and everything would be alright.” The broken hearted teenage girl often turned on her cassette and cried to the chorus of “I Saw Red,” because she understood deep down in her soul that Jani was right when he sang, “I don’t think I’m going to love you anymore.”
Of course, there were those days when hard driving music was a necessity, and so was a little head banging action. In those moments I always turned to “Mr. Rainmaker.” That song still puts a huge smile on my face, and I have to admit that even now I sometimes have the urge to pull my hair down and bang my head.
Jani Lane was always able to connect with his fans through his music. In his ballad “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,”Jani’s voice crooned about a fishing trip, a wishing well, and the atrocities committed by those who are supposed to be defending the helpless and the weak. Jani Lane’s voice gave the song an unearthly quality which allowed the listener to transport onto the scene. It has always been one of my favorite songs.
Warrant, will always remain one of my favorite hair bands. My love of Jani Lane’s music has never faded, and I am thankful that he had the ability to share his love for music and his amazing talent with the rest of the world. Today, I can’t help but smile as I think of my children singing one of Jani’s songs. He will truly be missed, but his music lives on.