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In a genre of music where survival of the fittest is not just a cliché but a way of life, Jani Lane embodied the spirit of a decade of excess, hedonism, and rock & roll. As the lead singer of Warrant, he helped to propel the band into the upper stratosphere with such hits as "Heaven," "Down Boys," and "Cherry Pie."
Born John Kennedy Oswald in Ohio, he played in several local metal bands in the late '70s before landing in Los Angeles in the mid-'80s. His band Plain Jane became a staple on the wild L.A. glam rock circuit. He and bandmember Steven Sweet were invited by Erik Turner to join his band Warrant. The group was signed by Columbia Records, and in true heavy metal fashion, Lane bought and smashed a black Corvette with his share of the money from the band's advance.
The group began to work on its legendary debut, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, a process that led Lane into a psychiatric hospital for a nervous breakdown after he caught his best friend having an affair with his girlfriend. Once he fully recovered, Lane recorded his vocals and the album went on to be one of the biggest-selling records of the glam metal era. The band's follow-up Cherry Pie failed to meet the debut's success; this, combined with the emergence and popularity of grunge, led to Warrant being dropped by their label.
Lane left Warrant in 2002 to pursue a solo career. He released Back Down to One in 2003, but shortly after was admitted to a rehab center for alcohol and drug-related exhaustion. He rebounded, and after a few acting roles and appearances on compilations, attempted to restart his own version of Warrant. Lawyers for the original band quickly struck this down. He later participated in VH1's reality series Celebrity Fit Club. Lane was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room on August 11, 2011; he was 47 years old.