Jani Lane, the lead singer for Warrant, a popular 1980s metal band that often had hits with songs he penned, including “Cherry Pie” and “Heaven,” has died. He was 47.
Lane was found dead Thursday evening in a Woodland Hills hotel, said Sara Faden, a Los Angeles police officer. The cause of death was not known and an autopsy was scheduled.
With his long blond hair and tight leather outfits, Lane embodied the excess of 1980s “hair metal” rock bands. After he joined Warrant in 1984, the band rose on the Sunset Strip circuit alongside kindred spirit Guns N’ Roses and eventually signed with Columbia Records.
In 1989, Warrant released its debut album, “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich,” which contained the hit singles “Down Boys,” “Sometimes She Cries” and “Heaven.”
A year later, the group’s sophomore album, “Cherry Pie,” was an even bigger success. To round out the mix of songs, Lane wrote the “Cherry Pie” track in 45 minutes, according to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.
“We jumped on the train in the mid-'80s, and that train was hair metal,” Lane told the Albany, N.Y., Times Union in 2001. “I had long blond hair and I sang high, so the powers that be said, ‘Hair metal. Let’s let Suzie over there put on some makeup for you, a little Aqua Net, and you’re on your way.”
The band’s success extended into the early 1990s.
Lane first parted ways with Warrant in 1993; grunge had replaced metal on the rock charts, and the hits had stopped coming. After that, he had an on-and-off relationship with the group.
Born John Kennedy Oswald on Feb. 1, 1964, in Akron, Ohio, he was the youngest of five children.
After high school, Lane moved to Florida and formed the band Plain Jane, which later became a staple on the L.A. glam-rock circuit. He and band mate Steven Sweet were eventually invited to join Warrant.
Lane had appeared in several television projects, including VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club” in 2005.
Last year, he stood in for vocalist Jack Russell on rock band Great White’s 25th anniversary tour.
Shortly after releasing a solo effort, “Back Down to One” in 2003, Lane was admitted to a rehab center for alcohol- and drug-related exhaustion. He had struggled with addiction for much of his adult life.
His survivors include two daughters from two previous marriages.