Being a teenage boy during the late eighties in Suburbia, USA, brought with it many dreams and visions. One of the strongest dreams I ever had was becoming a rock star. I was going to grow up to become the lead singer for one of the most successful heavy metal bands that the world had ever known.
As part of my world dominance, I would emulate some of my idols that were leading the way with the 80s glam bands of the day. One of the idols that I most wanted to be like was Jani Lane, lead singer of Warrant.
I can still remember the first time that I heard “Down Boys” on the radio. From the moment I heard Jani singing that song, I knew I had to own the record. However, as a teenager in my house, money was always tight. And growing up with frugal parents did not bode well for a kid with endless wants. My allowance was some ridiculous pittance of a dollar or two per week, which was quickly splurged on comic books and candy. In order to save for a copy of Dirty, Rotten, Stinking, Filthy, Rich, a lot of discipline needed to be involved — discipline and patience.
I was not blessed with strength in either category. However, the more I heard “Down Boys” on the radio and on Dial MTV, the more I knew that I had to own that record. With a burning desire in my head, I bit the bullet and actually saved money. I did side jobs for my step-father, I hung onto my allowance, foregoing the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in the process. I did whatever it took to save up the required $8.00 (plus tax).
When the day finally came that I had enough money to purchase my copy of DRFSR, I begged for a ride to the mall. Miracle of miracles, my mother agreed to take me without too much of an argument. When the car pulled into the parking lot, I was practically sprinting to Sam Goody. Once I got to the store entrance, I saw the album right there on the wall display of new releases. My entire face lit up. I was going to own my very own copy of DRFSR.
After purchasing the album, I bounced around the mall with glee. In the car ride home, I consumed the linear notes. I couldn’t wait to pop this cassette into the old boom box and blast the tunes. Warrant, here I come! My hope was that this band would be as good as Cinderella, or Poison, two other bands from the 80s heyday that I loved with a passion.
Upon returning home, I raced to my room, closed the door, and flipped on the tape deck. The Warrant tape was popped into the machine, the door closed, and the play button pressed. Immediately, the opening notes of “32 Pennies” filled the room and I was mesmerized. This brand new band from Hollywood immediately captivated me.
Consuming track after track of this dynamic ten song debut left me feeling ecstatic. Warrant was a band with staying power. DRFSR was immediately added to my favorite albums list and received constant play in the music rotation. The videos that the band released only further cemented my love for them. From “Big Talk” to “Heaven,” I was a Warrant fan of immense proportions.
At the center of it all was Jani Lane. He was young, good looking, and a hell of a singer. I thought that if I could be half as talented as he was, I would rule the world with my band. As the years went by, Warrant released more great music, I purchased it right away, and I continued to imitate a lot of Jani’s style as I auditioned for bands and wrote song lyrics.
Years later, post college, my dreams would fade as the realities of a working life set in. I never did get to take over the world, but I still remained a Warrant fan and a Jani Lane fan. I had the opportunity to see the band in concert twice with Jani at the helm, and I am so glad that I did. Not only was he a great and talented singer, but he could really lead the band during a live show. Warrant was placed on the same pedestal reserved for Poison and Cinderella, the upper echelon of glam rock.
The tail end of Jani Lane’s life was a sad one. It was hard for me to watch as one of my boyhood idols battled addiction, became overweight and out of shape, and proclaimed how much he detested one of the biggest hit songs of his career. When he went as far as stating that he wished he never wrote the song, I was appalled. How could someone be so resentful of a song that brought him so much fame and brought his fans so much joy? I felt for Jani Lane at that point.
The recent news of his death really shocked me. I was holding out hope that there would be one last hurrah, one last reunion with Warrant that went perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I think Robert Mason has done an amazing job during his time as Warrant’s lead singer, but we always yearn for the original, don’t we? With the passing of Jani Lane, we know that reunion will never happen. It’s a shame that he left this world so young and so early, but I know that the memories will live on forever. I will always have Dirty, Rotten, Filthy, Stinking, Rich and I will always have the memory of the first time I heard Jani Lane singing “Down Boys.” May he rest in peace — his body is gone, but his spirit is never forgotten.