Jani Lane, the former lead singer of seminal Los Angeles metal rock band Warrant, was found dead in a Woodland Hills, CA hotel at approximately 5:30 pm on Thursday. Lane, born John Oswald, was 47. His body was found in a Comfort Inn in the 20100 block of Ventura Boulevard in an area known both for its high level of crime and addiction. "He was discovered unresponsive," said Coroner's Deputy Chief Ed Winter. He was pronounced dead at the scene by fire department paramedics.
The cause and circumstances of this hair band icon’s lamentable death are not yet known, but Lane had suffered from addiction issues for most of his life in the spotlight.
His passing signals the death knell for the end of Los Angeles' glory years as the capital of rock excess and debauchery in the mid-1980s, when Warrant, along with Guns ‘N Roses, held sway on the Sunset Strip circuit of clubs. Even Prince was a fan, and tried to sign the band to his Paisley Park label. The band ultimately signed a deal with Columbia, releasing their first album Dirty Rotten, Filthy Stinking Rich in 1989, where it spent 65 weeks on the Billboard 200. Their 1990 follow-up Cherry Pie fared even better, with both the discs selling over two million copies each.
Lane, with his glorious mane of bleached-blond hair, tattoos, and tight pants was a fixture at Los Angeles’ Rainbow Club, where he always held court with a bevy of beautiful women at his side, until he married a leggy blonde model named Bobbi Brown who appeared in the band’s video for their iconic hit “Cherry Pie.” The couple had a daughter together, but later divorced.
Despite his personal problems, Warrant rode a massive wave of success and adoration throughout the early 1990s until the advent of grunge. Lane famously said that when he heard Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” he felt “impending doom.” And he was right. For the rest of the '90s Seattle’s third most famous import replaced rock on the charts, the baleful lament of Vedder, Cobain, and Cornell taking over metal’s brief hegemony.
Lane left Warrant in 1993, reuniting occasionally with the band over the years for shows. The last time he played with the band was in 2004. More recently, in 2005, the singer was a contestant on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, winning over a whole new generation of fans.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Jani’s passing,” Warrant said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Jani was a very important part of our lives for a long time. We will always be incredibly proud of the music we created together. He was a true talent and will be missed by all of us."
The band plans to pay tribute to their fallen member during their show in Grand Forks, North Dakota.