Even I had to laugh the other day at the ‘media’ circus following every step of Lindsay Lohan’s celebrity long walk into jail to start serving her time for DWI. Even CNN had a blow-by-blow blog running to follow along her route.
Ex-Warrant front man Jani Lane was arrested Sunday night when he hit a parked car in Woodland Hills, California. His second DUI in just about a year. Even arrested by the same officer who booked him for the 2009 DUI when he plead no contest and got three years probation and his license taken away for the same amount of time. Oh yeah, he had to attend a 30-month alcohol education program to boot. With this last auto debacle, Lane is set to serve his three years in jail, reportedly set to start July 27.
This former Warrant singer has sort of been in a steady state of disintegration before the public’s eyes over the last few years. Never more out there as his 2005 stint on VH1’s reality show “Celebrity Fit Club.” Bloated and, well, larger-than-life is a nice way to put it. Jani went on to lose more than weight on the show. He lost what alleged sobriety he was maintaining.
But every once in a while you have to sit back and take a look. These celebrities, musicians, actors, etc, are real people. Flawed as they are, flawed as we all are.
Funny, I had been talking to a co-worker a few days ago. One of the “wonder whatever happened to…” conversations. One name came up. Then while catching a glimpse of that Lohan trek the other day, a news item popped up on one of those diva-ish gossip sites. Jani Lane arrested. That’s the name my co-worker and I were tossing around the day before.
Listen, Warrant was a successful ’80s band. They went more than 4X Platinum with their first two releases: 1989s “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich,” and 1990s “Cherry Pie.” Someone bought those albums. Lots of someones. The single “Heaven” dropped at #2 on the US Hot 100 Chart and #3 on the US Mainstream Rock Chart. Female fans? Yeah. Male fans? Hell yeah. With the late ’80s being coined as the decade of decadence down on Hollywood Blvd., and eventually around the world, the Warrant audiences were pretty evenly split between scantily clad girls with short shorts and high hair. But, pressed up against the barricades in front of each arena stage across the nation were the guys. Skin tight spandex and cropped tee shirts proudly displaying the name of their favorite band and mandatory Aqua-net-teased hair flying high like a flag of their allegiance to this headbanging scene. Warrant is still making music today. Minus Lane, however, replacing him with current singer Steven Sweet.
Now that whole rock scene from the Jovi/Poison/Crue/Whitesnake days has become a parody of sorts. Very unfairly, as they were in fact some good musicians and some of their songs, in fact, do stand the test of time. And as I said, Jani Lane has certainly put himself out there in front of the public in a display of his disarray these last few years. But I know this guy. Or, I knew this guy. Really well. With most jobs where you spend a lot of time with co-workers, you start a friendship outside the 9-5 day. A child’s birthday party. A wedding. Dinner. My job 20+ years ago as a freshman music journalist was writing for about a half-dozen of the big rock magazines that flooded the news stands back then. Lots of hard work (believe it or not) and a lot of adventures. Meeting really creative musicians at the top of their game.
One band that was starting out about the same time was Warrant. Every publication wanted an exclusive story. So the band, as did many others, took me on the road with them a couple of times. If anyone’s every been on a tour, there’s a ton of down time. So you hang. Mostly watch TV and order room service because the crew is loading into the arena and there’s not much else to do. One guitarist for another band used to call me all the time and ask me what city his band was in that day. That’s how similar the Hyatt’s look from town to town for these bands of musical gypsies … driving six, ten hours after a gig and getting to the next city as the sun rises. Jani Lane was a good guy. I went to his first wedding, in fact. Barbecues at his home. Days in the studio. Life.
Like it or not. Good, bad, or indifferent, life goes on. These artists, whether it’s ex-Warrant singer Jani Lane or any other artist who has veered off and taken a destructive detour, have left a musical legacy in their path. We listened. We sang. We maybe even appreciated it as a snapshot of where our lives were at the time. Let’s take a good look when things like this happen, we see a star going down in flames. But let’s not stare.
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