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|Birth name||John Kennedy (Patrick) Oswald|
|Also known as||Jani Lane|
February 1, 1964|
Akron, Ohio, United States
|Died||August 11, 2011
Woodland Hills, California, United States
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist|
|Instruments||Vocals, Drums, piano, guitar, Keyboards, synthesizer, Harmonies|
|Associated acts||Warrant, Plain Jane, Sean E. River Project, Saints of the Underground, Great White|
Jani Lane (February 1, 1964 – August 11, 2011) was an American recording artist and lead vocalist, frontman, lyricist and main songwriter for the glam metal band Warrant. From Hollywood, California, the band experienced success from 1989–1996 with five albums reaching international sales of over 10 million. Lane left Warrant in 2004 and again in 2008 after a brief reunion. Lane also released a solo album Back Down to One in 2003 and the album Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner with a new group Saints of the Underground in 2008. Lane contributed his lead vocals and song writing to many various projects throughout his career.
Childhood and youth
Lane was born John Kennedy Oswald (later changed to John Patrick Oswald), on February 1, 1964 in Akron, Ohio. Hospital staff strongly urged his parents to change his middle name with the recent assassination of President Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald. Combining those two names could cause long term negative comments. Jani always maintained two birth certificates, one each containing his two middle names. The youngest of Eileen and Robert Oswald's five children, John grew up just east of Akron in Brimfield, two miles south of Kent State University, along with his older brother (Eric) and 3 older sisters (Marcine, Michelle and Victoria). Eric, an already established and accomplished guitarist, was young John's mentor, and was also the one who bought Lane his first drum set. "John" learned to play drums, guitar and piano by ear at age 6. He would participate, when tolerated, in the home during many jam sessions with his brother and many well-known talents of that day, including Joe Walsh & original members of the "Measles", along with other musicians that the Oswald's would host. These events would teach, aid and promote participation with a young John for the rest of his life.
Lane grew up listening to Cleveland rock stations such as WMMS (100.7 FM, "Home of the Buzzard"), and was introduced to all types of bands and music by siblings. Through his sister Vicky's connections in the music scene and his parents' encouragement, he quickly made a name for himself at a very young age. Lane played drums under the name of "Mitch Dynamite" in clubs by age 11, and with the prompting of Vicky and her boyfriend's group "Pokerface", he started his career and began his climb to bigger and better things, via the drums and by word of mouth in the music/entertainment community. ("Mitch Dynamite" is listed as the drummer in the credits for Warrant's Latest and Greatest CD).
Throughout the years, Lane would sometimes jump behind the kit to play with his band; he had played the drums in various formats and gigs, always enjoying jam sessions at home and in public with his siblings as back-ups. This was a frequent occurrence during hometown visits with pop-up "gigs/jams" and always including various fellow professional musicians, that he either brought home with him or invited, surprising his family. His mother became the chef for those events, whether she liked it or not, and it was a good meal enjoyed by all.
He played all instruments, self-taught, and provided the harmonies on a majority of his own songs. By the time Lane was 11, his siblings had left for College or Marriage. He still gained many contacts through his sister, Vicky, closest in age, 9 and half years apart and who worked in the entertainment industry( as an in house DJ, Manager of various entertainment facilities and responsible for hiring international performers) since Jani was 11. Providing a young teen-aged John with free accessibility to concerts of his favorite groups.
He graduated from Field High School in 1982 with many options available to him, including football and Drama scholarships at Kent State, Ohio State and Akron University Colleges, etc. He was on all Honor Roll and highly above-average, intelligent, student programs from kindergarten through high school, what he often lacked in attendance, he usually made up for it quickly or had no trouble in school- work or learning. Even by age of 3, he kept nocturnal hours. He chose his passion much to the chagrin of his parents, who wanted him to continue his education. Education being a pet peeve of his Father's, his personal idol, and both parents were torn with Jani's ultimate, after High School Graduation decision. Although the rift remained for many years, his Father, Robert ("Ozzie) was his biggest supporter and fan, his Mother, his one & only solace from the demands of a very pressurized & public life, both parents often being the sounding board for his original music written & later recorded. One of the many reasons he remained humble was due to his parents & siblings, who never wavered in encouragement, love or support. Lane was proud of his hometown and how it kept him grounded.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Lane joined the band Cyren, featuring vocalist Skip Hammonds, guitarist John Weakland, bassist Don Hoover (and later, Rusty Fohner), with Lane on drums. Many of Cyren's shows were opening for a popular local band called Risqué in downtown Kent at Filthy McNasties. When their bassist, Al Collins noticed the talented drummer/vocalist, he convinced Lane to form a new band that would eventually be called Dorian Gray. The new band also included Steven Chamberlin on drums and his brother, Dave Chamberlin, on lead guitar. Dorian Gray was designed to bring Jani out from behind the drums to the front man position and perform original material. Not long after putting the band together, Lane decided he wasn't ready to be the lead singer and moved back to drums. They then hired Billy Denmead to sing lead vocals and play rhythm guitar. After only a few shows, Al Collins left the band. He had wanted Jani to be the lead singer, when this didn't happen, they parted as friends, but vowed to put a band together when Jani was ready to come back out front. It would take a few years before he had the confidence to be the front man we would all eventually come to know as "The Song and Dance Man" of the mainstream generation.
After making a name for himself in Ohio, Jani relocated to Florida in 1983 with Dorian Gray. He eventually formed Plain Jane in FLA with future Warrant bandmate Steven (Chamberlin) Sweet and longtime friend/bassist Al Collins. It was at this time Lane completely adopted the stage name "Jani Lane." Lane got the name from his German Fraternal grandparents' pronunciation and spelling of Johnny as "Jani, although they said it as Yah-nee and while that stuck, he put the "J & A" in for a more relateable sound. While living in Florida, Lane began vocal training with a well known local coach/trainer,Ron Feldman. Feldman introduced Lane to Creative Engineering, Inc. in Orlando where he worked as a programmer of the animatronic character, Dook LaRue, the drummer for the Rock-afire Explosion. His vocal debut was at Fern Park Station in Fern Park, Florida. Lane and Feldman remain close friends with Feldman playing the keyboards at Lane's first wedding in 1991.
Jani, Al and Steven recorded the first Plain Jane 4-track demos at their rented house in Winter Park, Florida before relocating to California in the spring of 1984. Jani loved Florida and was not interested in moving to Los Angeles, at first, but the music scene on the Hollywood Sunset Strip seemed like the logical place to be if a band wanted to gain a record deal, so they rented a trailer and headed West. They broke down in almost every state along the way to California, leaving the boys broke by the time they landed at the Hollywood Bowl Motel. They put the last of their change together, bought a quart of milk and a loaf of bread and made sandwiches with mustard packets while taking turns calling their parents for cash. Jani was flown to New York to possibly sign with Sony Records and was harassed and propositioned by an executive, only later finding out that that Executive was fired for that same behavior to many other young hopefuls. His parents flew him back to Ohio to relax. At this time Prince was very much interested in Jani's talent for writing, performing and playing all of the instruments. Jani spent many personal hours of professional time with Prince, in his studio, collaborating on quite a few songs, for both. Mutual respect for creativity lasted for both of their lifetimes. Prince guided Jani into signing with Columbia, on his own terms. They both fought for control for their own music, but not without being labeled "difficult." This trickled over into the Warrant group as well, creating difficulties with members that just could not contribute to songwriting/performance side of the business. Jealousy reared, quieted and became a constant among the other members, during their entire tenure.
Now living in Los Angeles, the boys took various odd jobs to survive. Struggling to make ends meet as a musician, Lane resorted to working in a pornographic video warehouse. It was harder to pay the bills in California, so the band and new road crew, plus a few girlfriends pooled their wages and lived in a two-bedroom condo rented by the new Plain Jane guitarist, Paul Noble. At any one time, there were 13 people living in the crowded space. Everyone pitched in to have a stage show built that included a spinning drum riser. The band rehearsed for months until Plain Jane was ready to take on Hollywood.
By 1985, Plain Jane had become a regular fixture and feature in the Los Angeles club circuit and opened many shows for a band called Warrant. Coincidentally, Plain Jane's bassist and guitarist left the band on the same day Warrant's singer and drummer quit. It seemed as though the stars were lining up to for the camps to merge into one monster of a rock band. Erik Turner, who had founded Warrant in July 1984, was impressed by Plain Jane's songwriting and vocal performance, especially knowing it was Jani who wrote the majority of the music and invited Lane and Sweet to jam with his band at Hollywood's db Sound in September 1986.
Not one to turn down any opportunity, the invitation was accepted and the result was a new formation of Warrant with Lane's talent as lead singer/songwriter/performer and the rest is history. At this time, they were being scouted by more than one record label. Nothing could have for-warned what would happen next in Jani Lane's professional and personal life. On March 25, 1985 Jani's Father, Robert Oswald (57) suffered a massive stroke, leaving him on life support for 30 days and in ICU in Akron, Ohio. Jani flew home, spent that time, in between his record meetings/gigs in L.A., with his Mom and 4 siblings, taking over one of the tiny Doctor/family rooms for that entire month. The tears, laughter and talks could be heard all the way into the ICU. Both Brothers having often brought their guitars to their Father's bedside and for their Mom's benefit.
No one knew the bond between Father & Son or their love and respect for each other, better than Tom Hulett. Tom had been 'courting' Warrant for a record deal and struck up a friendship with the then unknown Lane. Lane's Father ultimately survived, but was very limited, in life, after that. His Dad would become home bound, on a feeding tube, unable to speak clearly. He had once been a known published writer/public speaker/grievance supervisor, but his World had changed and so did Jani's. Lane lost his most trusted & intimate confidante and was transformed from then on. He turned to Hulett for advice, good or bad, professionally. It was also at this time, that he began the legal proceedings to change his name for business and professional reasons. Something his parents were not happy about.
After generating notoriety on the club circuit, Warrant began to attract the attention of record labels. Following an abortive deal with A&M records over a contribution to the soundtrack for the motion picture Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the band signed with Columbia Records. The Columbia deal came via the partnering of Warrant and then manager, Tom Hulett (known for working with The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Prince, The Moody Blues and others). Tom ultimately became Lane's mentor and closest friend, after Lane's Father's stroke(mentioned before) and until Tom's death from cancer in 1993.
As lead vocalist with Warrant, Lane wrote all of the band's material including four Top 40 hit singles: "Down Boys", "Sometimes She Cries", "Big Talk" and the number 2 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Heaven" for Warrant's debut double platinum album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich in 1989, which peaked at number 10 on The Billboard 200. Lane also wrote another four top 40 hit singles: "Cherry Pie," "I Saw Red," "Uncle Tom's Cabin"( in honor of "the greatest storyteller that ever lived", his Father) and "Blind Faith" for their second album, the double platinum Cherry Pie in 1990, which peaked at number 7 on the Billboard 200. Officially, he legally became Jani Lane. Lane also co-wrote and performed with Warrant the song "The Power" for the soundtrack of the 1992 movie Gladiator. The band also released their third album in 1992, the critically acclaimed Gold record Dog Eat Dog which peaked at number 25 on the Billboard 200. This was a major disappointment for Lane personally, since he wrote all of the songs for this album while going through a very rough personal time. Adjusting to his Dad's limitations/lack of conversations and Tom's cancer diagnosis. He had put so much effort into the new sound and yet it did not receive the air play it should have. Most would blame him, but he never cast any shadows onto anyone else, a trait he kept until his sudden death. He would always remain, first and for most, a humble guy from Kent, Ohio who loathed anyone talking down to others less fortunate in life, no matter the reason.
Lane left Warrant in March 1993 to pursue a solo career but returned to the band in September 1993 with the urging of his then on & off again manager, helping the band to secure a new record with Tom Lipsky of CMC International. The band then recorded Ultraphobic in 1995, Belly to Belly in 1996, Greatest & Latest in 1999 and a cover album Under the Influence in 2001. It should be important to note that Lane's father passed away on Memorial Day, 1995. He was unreachable by family, or so they were told, by his manager. His Dad's funeral showing lasted 8 hours instead of the regular 3, due to all of the fans Mr. Oswald had acquired as being one of the biggest "Warrant fan Club operators" at that time. over 2800 people showed up to pay their respects and to see Jani Lane in person. They weren't disappointed but were shown a very down to earth young man grieving the loss of his father. Not one band member or the manager showed up. The jealousy had always played a big part in the rift within the band, the controlling manager was continuously fired and re-hired, if only for "the devil you know" relationship.That manager is not highly respected now or then within the music industry.
Due to personal and business disagreements, Lane left Warrant in 2004. In January 2008, the band's agent, The William Morris Agency issued a new photograph of the band with Lane prominently featured, confirming his return to the band. It was the first time that all original members had been in the band since 1993. The band's first show with all original members was in May 2008 in Nashville.
Warrant then performed a series of shows during the summer of 2008, but by September 2008, Warrant and Lane agreed to move forward separately, due to "too much water under the bridge." Warrant and Lane both continued to perform Lane's compositions live and Lane continued to write for himself and other artists, while fighting for his own legal rights that the group wanted to take away, including the name, Jani Lane, Lane's legally and personally owned name. If Jani ever felt negatively towards the Band members performing his songs, he never complained openly, which made the attempts to stop Lane from using his own name, even that more difficult to understand.
Lane became involved in acting in the early 1990s. He made a brief appearance in Caged Fear, and also appeared in High Strung in 1991. The group was asked to be a part of the David Foster's video "Voices That Care", a solo part for Lane was intended, and accepted by all, also in 1991.
In 1993 Jani Lane started working on his first solo project, titled "Jabberwocky," the album represented a significant musical departure from previous work but continued to be pushed back. Between 1997 and 2000, demos of Lane's solo material began surfacing on the Internet, there have been reports of his manager doing this without the benefit of Jani's knowledge or permission, with some bids on eBay reaching an estimated $US100.00 per copy. In 2002 Lane decided to postpone the "Jabberwocky" project and instead released a brand new project as his debut solo album. The "Jabberwocky" project remained unreleased and would have continued so until Lane himself would have directed the release himself. Lane was extremely protective of his music and personal life and did not like the internet for any reason other than to boost upcoming events.
Lane's official debut solo album, Back Down to One, was released on June 17, 2003 through Z Records and (2006) in the US on Immortal/Sidewinder Records. It carried a "power pop" sound which was more closely aligned with the sound of Warrant than the unreleased Jabberwocky project. Shortly after the album's release, Lane was admitted to a rehab center for alcohol and exhaustion. Lane did not do drugs. Like all members of his family, he had a very sensitive system and reacted quite literally opposite to most, if not all medications, prescribed or otherwise.
In August 2004, Lane withdrew from the Bad Boys of Metal tour after only eight shows. Lane's guiding light and soul confessor, his Mother, Eileen, died unexpectedly on Thanksgiving morning, Lane was never the same again.
In the Fall 2004, Lane contributed the lead vocals for the first ever theme song to a novel, The Devil of Shakespeare, by author, Billy McCarthy, along with JY from Styx, Ron Flynt 20/20, Chip Z'Nuff of Enuff Z'Nuff. Something he would have normally shared with his Mother first, but never got that chance.
He spent the remainder of November with his siblings planning & orchestrating his Mother's Funeral and Cremation. Going so far as strongly voicing his own choices in the music used for her Funeral showing/Mass and traveling to the crematory to confirm the ashes the family received were indeed that of their Mother's. Not one to claim his problems in public forums, it was just another reason for his sudden changes in behavior. He once told his family that he often felt very lonely in a stadium or venue. Later in life, he just enjoyed creating the music in private. During home visits with his family and friends, he would get angry being interrupted for phone calls while he was 'writing" music/songs usually in his childhood bedroom. It was a game between family members to see who would have to knock on the door and tell him he had a "call", with the muffled answer "God Damn it, not now".
Lane contributed vocals on the track "Bastille Day" and "2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx" for the Magna Carta 2005 Rush tribute album Subdivisions.
Lane had success with the "VH1 Classic Metal Mania: Stripped" discs where the acoustic version of "I Saw Red" was included on disc 1, a new acoustic swinging version of "Cherry Pie" featured on disc 2 and a new acoustic version of "Heaven" featured on disc 3.
In early 2005, Lane became a fan favorite on the popular VH1 series Celebrity Fit Club 2. The rocker's alcohol problems were highlighted during the show, and many viewers were rooting for his recovery. But none were ever truly let into his private world of pain due to the loss of his beloved Mother, Eileen, and for that, even his family had to hide their pain during those awful, cutting remarks made by some of the show's professionals, fans and friends.
In 2006 with the reissue and US release of "Back Down to One" Lane attempted to restart his own version of Warrant. Although "Back Down to One" was credited as a solo release the singer assembled a new touring band for the album subsequently titled "JANI LANE'S WARRANT". Unfortunately, his first batch of solo shows, in Michigan, would be stopped by legal action from his former band mates objecting to the use of the Warrant band logo on his posters. Lane continued touring without the Warrant name and logo, but warrant members continued to disrespect Jani for the remainder of his life..
Lane lent his vocals to numerous tribute CDs during the 2000s and in 2007 Lane released a solo cover album titled "Photograph", featuring a collection of his tribute contributions.
Keri Kelli and Lane wrote a song for Alice Cooper, titled, "The One That Got Away." It was recorded by Cooper on his 2008 record, Along Came a Spider. Lane also finished work on his side project, Saints of the Underground. This project also consists of Bobby Blotzer and Robbie Crane (both from Ratt), and Keri Kelli (from Alice Cooper). Their album, Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner was released on April 22, 2008 by Warrior Records and was mixed by legendary producer/engineer Andy Johns, who worked with such bands as The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and also featuring additional bass work by Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, House of Lords) . The band was originally called "Angel City Outlaws" when they posted their first two promo singles: "Bruised" and "Exit".
In summer 2010, Lane toured with Great White, filling in for singer Jack Russell, who was recuperating from surgery after suffering internal complications from alcoholism and other health issues.
During the shooting of Warrant's "Cherry Pie" video, Lane met model Bobbie Jean Brown, who starred in the video, and they wed a couple of months later in July, 1991. They were married for two years and had a daughter, Taylar, in 1992 before divorcing in 1993. Lane was married again in 1997, to catalog model Rowanne Brewer, a former Miss Maryland USA, and the two welcomed a daughter, Madison Michelle, the following year. They ended their marriage in 2006. Lane was married a third time for a brief 9 months in 2010, before filing for Divorce in 2011, to Kimberly Nash, who he was separated from him at the time of his death in 2011, and despite no marriage license ever being produced. His siblings remain devastated and steadfast in their belief that too many questions remained unanswered, a feeling shared by many who knew him well. Their willingness to keep seeking the truth is as strong as ever.
On August 11, 2011, Lane was found dead, allegedly of acute alcohol poisoning at a Comfort Inn hotel in Woodland Hills, California. However, the cause of death at autopsy was recorded as 'undetermined'; his death still remains under investigation and an open case, he was 47 years old.
A public memorial concert for Lane – with performances by fellow rockers Great White, Quiet Riot and L.A. Guns – was held on Monday, August 29, 2011 at the Key Club in Hollywood No immediate family members were invited, but one of his Sisters and his Brother did attend, with Eric going on stage to perform a few songs that both he and Jani had worked on and enjoyed.
A movie is in the works about the life of Jani Lane, without the permission of his immediate family.
- 1989 Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich
- 1990 Cherry Pie
- 1992 Dog Eat Dog
- 1995 Ultraphobic
- 1996 Belly to Belly
- 1997 Warrant Live 86-97
- 1999 Greatest & Latest (New versions)
- 2001 Under the Influence
- 2002 Back Down to One
- 2007 Photograph (cover album)
With Saints of the Underground
With Liberty N Justice
- 2007 Addiction
- 2011 Sin (Single)
- 1992 Gladiator OST: "We Will Rock You" (Queen cover)
- 1992 Gladiator OST: The Power
- 1989 Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure OST : "Game of War"
- 1998 Forever Mod: Portrait of a Storyteller – Tribute to Rod Stewart: "I Was Only Joking"
- 1999 Not The Same Old Song And Dance – A Tribute to Aerosmith: "No Surprise"
- 2000 Tribute to Van Halen 2000: "Panama"
- 2000 Cheap Dream: Cheap Trick Tribute: "I Want You to Want Me" (The Mission UK Remix)
- 2000 Leppardmania- A tribute to Def Leppard: "Photograph"
- 2000 Queen 4 A Day Shameless 2000: "Backing Vocals on Far Away, Lonely Night in Paradise"
- 2004 VH1 Classic Metal Mania: Stripped: "I Saw Red (Acoustic)"
- 2005 VH1 Classic Metal Mania Stripped 2: Anthems – "Cherry Pie (Acoustic)"
- 2005 Hell Bent Forever – A tribute to Judas Priest: "Electric Eye"
- 2005 Subdivisions: A Tribute to Rush: "2112 Overture/Temples of Syrinx", "Bastille Day"
- 2006 A Tribute to Bon Jovi: "Lay Your Hands on Me"
- 2007 VH1 Classic Metal Mania Stripped 3: "Heaven (Acoustic)"
- 2007 Monster Ballads Xmas : "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
- 2007 Famous 4 Madness Shameless 2007: "Backing Vocals on Better Off Without you, Magical Misery, Dirty Shirt, She's Watching You"
- 2008 Led Box – The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Tribute: "The Ocean"
- 2010 Siam Shade Tribute: "1/3 no Junjou na Kanjou"
- 2011 Sin-Atra: A Metal Tribute To Frank Sinatra: "That's Life"
- 2012 Dial S for Sex Shameless 2012: "Backing Vocals on Far Away"
As Jani Lane
- 1991 Voices That Care (Various) U.S. #11, U.S. AC #6 CAN #61 non-album song
|1991||Voices That Care (As Jani Lane) (Various)||David S. Jackson|
- Hughes, Mark (August 12, 2011). "Jani Lane, Former Frontman for Glam Band 'Warrant', Found Dead". Forbes.com. Forbes.com LLC. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- "Warrant frontman Jani Lane died of alcohol poisoning". Reuters. October 5, 2011.
- Slotnik, Daniel E. (August 12, 2011). "Jani Lane, Heavy-Metal Lead Singer, Dies at 47". The New York Times.
- Klosterman, Chuck (July 19, 2001). "Glam Slam Metal Jam – Bands from 1980s at Blossom Tonight". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. E12 – Entertainment.
- Abram, Malcolm X (August 13, 2011). "Former Warrant Singer Jani Lane, 47, Akron/Cleveland/Kent Native – Hits Include 'Cherry Pie', 'Heavan' ". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. B1.
- Johnson, Kevin C. (June 22, 1995). "B.I.G. Big on Pop Charts: Rapper a.k.a. Biggie Smalls to Be at Gund with Ice Cube, Others". Akron Beacon Journal. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. p. E2 – Entertainment.
- WARRANT | MusicMight
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- "Former WARRANT Singer JANI LANE Dead at 47". BlabberMouth.
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