For several years, I worked with Jani Lane of Warrant when I was a VP at Columbia Records. During the promotion of the “Dog Eat Dog” CD (which I still think features some of Warrant’s best songs), I went on a promo tour with them for about six weeks. The first thing Jani ever said to me was, “I hear you think we suck. Why are you here?” I’d been blindsided by a guy who worked closely with the band and had told Jani that I thought their live shows were terrible. There was nothing I could do but admit what I’d said. Jani asked which shows I’d been to and when I told him he said, “You’re right. Those were terrible shows. We’re cool.” We proceeded to actually have a lot of fun on this promo tour, although it was grueling. While I did all the driving and organizing, Jani and usually Joey (I always had Jani and one other band member with me) got to sleep.
After all the radio interviews every day, we went out every night to clubs, bars and strip joints. Since technically I was responsible for them getting out of bed the next morning, I had to make sure they actually made it home to the hotel at night, so I was the designated driver. I have never ever seen anyone drink more night after night than Jani. He was a drinking machine, and I guess we all know now that that’s not a good thing. At the time though, I was just amazed that he could get up every morning and function.
Through it all, I came to really admire Jani. He was truly smart – well-read and very astute. I think songwriting came very easily to him. He didn’t seem like a tortured soul to me and was actually lighthearted, sweet and very funny. The only negative during the whole promo tour was that metal was dying a fast and painful death. Here they were with a cd that in any other previous year would have been muti-platinum, and we were begging for airplay. “Hole In My Wall”, “Bitter Pill”…they were great songs. I personally think that the downfall of the genre is what started his decline.
Over the years, I ran into Jani several times, the last being at Rocklahoma. He was sober at the time, very fit, and looking good. I just gave him a big hug and told him that I was happy he had conquered his demons. He promised that he was on a good path and taking life day by day. Recently, I’d been in touch with his guitar player Patrick Kennison, and had received nice greetings from Jani. Of course, it seemed like the DUIs kept piling up, but I was hopeful they were minor setbacks.
Jani, you were a hell of a songwriter and a sweet man. I’ll miss you. RIP.
Founder and Executive Producer
The House of Hair