R.I.P. Jani Lane

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TMZ is reporting the lead singer for the late 80s hair metal / glam metal band Warrant has passed away at the age of 47. His body was found in a Comfort Inn hotel in Woodland Hills, CA; no official cause of death has yet been released, but his alcohol struggles in recent years were well-documented.

He leaves behind two daughters: Taylar Jayne Lane, aged 19; and Madison Michelle Lane, aged 14. His former live-in girlfriend, actress / director Sheila Lussier tweeted Thursday night four simple words: “My heart is broken.”

He was born John Kennedy Oswald on February 1, 1964 (the first and middle names no doubt designed to cushion the pain of that last name just 2 & 1/2 months after the assassination by an Oswald of President John Kennedy). Part of a family of musicians, by age 11 he was playing drums in clubs under the name “Mitch Dynomite” (who gets credited on one of Warrant’s “greatest hits” CDs!). In 1982 he joined a local band (“Cyren”), then formed his own band (“Plain Jane”) in 1985.

He was invited to join Warrant in 1986, and together he and the band hit the charts over and over again with hits like “Heaven,” “Down Boys” and “Sometimes She Cries” (all written by Lane) and “Cherry Pie,” “I Saw Red,” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (all also from his pen!).

He left Warrant in 1993, came back in 1994, left in 2004, came back in 2008, and left for good six months later. He had numerous solo projects, and wrote for other artists including Alice Cooper.

As recently as last summer he had filled in for Jack Russell, lead singer of Great White, on their tour while Russell recovered from surgery.

Lane had a history of alcohol-related issues — he was ordered to serve 120 days in jail after he was arrested for DUI in 2010 … his second DUI in two years. Rumors already point to alcohol in this death, but that may not be known for weeks as we wait for toxicology tests.

Prior to serving time in jail for his most recent legal troubles, Lane issued a statement in which he said, in part, “My true hope is that anyone out there dealing with personal problems… the consequences do not get lighter. I can only say I’ve never regretted a good decision or action and never been proud of bad ones. People have an astounding ability to forgive… I have to start with forgiving myself. That is something that I find far more difficult than I imagined. I think it starts with gratitude.”

I remember hearing Warrant on the radio and seeing Warrant on MTV, and while they were “one of the hair bands” (I seemed to want to confuse them with Skid Row and maybe Poison), I liked the softer edge of songs like “I Saw Red” and “Heaven.” The only thing that drove me crazy about “Heaven” was liking the more stripped-down, less reverb-drenched version of the song, while the only version I seemed to find on CD was the re-recorded and super-polished version for pop radio.

Jani had a great voice, a great look (in the early years, anyway!), and wrote fantastic songs. He donated his time and talent to tributes to bands like Rush and causes like “Voices That Care,” a recording event designed to boost the morale of U.S. troops involved in Operation Desert Storm as well as support the International Red Cross. Whatever his personal demons, he was yet another talent snuffed out far, far too soon… he will be deeply missed.

Here’s his autobiography, from his website.

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