When the news of Jani Lane's death hit the Internet - and thus the world - Thursday evening, I was both sad and troubled. I did what I do: I immediately opened my laptop and updated this site with the news and then replicated the story for Noisecreep. Then I texted a few friends, posted on Facebook and Twitter and just generally felt sad.
Turns out I was still sad - very sad - come Friday morning. I didn't know Jani. We'd met one time, but I'd seen him perform often. I am just a big fan and his loss is a blow. Then it sort of hit me: Thursday's loss just isn't about Jani. No, it's more about Glam Metal in general.
Since the early 1980s, fans of Glam have been vehemently defending their musical heroes to so-called critics and other "true" metal fans. That sort of defense becomes ingrained: anymore, you just do it and don't think twice. So, for years when anyone mocked the song "Cherry Pie" I always had a knee jerk defense response. I have responses for all sorts of Glam bands. It is what I do. It is what you do. We're fans.
The loss of Jani, best known as the original singer and main songwriter for Warrant, is more about the bigger picture. Yes, we lost another musician we all admire far too soon, but what does that say about us? Are we all living in the past, by taking up for Jani (and Kevin DuBrow and Steve Clark and on and on and on) or does such a loss represent more? After all, we grew up with these musicians. Had posters of them on our walls. Danced to their music. Saw them in concert and got excited when they won awards and became infuriated when they were dealt personal blows.
The matter of the way Jani died is of little consequence to me. It really isn't any of my business. I'm more interested in keeping his memory alive through his music. He was a brilliant songwriter and yes, he was so much more than just "Cherry Pie."
I think it would be hard to be an aging rock star. After all, everyone can't rise to the level of fame shared by Bono or Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger. Of course, they have their demons too but when they pass, the event will be considered near cataclysmic, just like Michael Jackson died. I guarantee Rolling Stone, CNN and Vanity Fair all have obits ready for Mick Jagger just in case. There will be breaking news banners, cover stories, days of mourning. This isn't going to happen for Jani and he probably always knew that. I mean he was "just" a Glam Metal singer, right?
I think what Jani (and Dubrow and Clark and on and on) didn't realize was the massive impact they had on their fans. The sort of bond someone forges right at the beginning of a band's career is a very hard thing to break for the true fan. I know some of you were there for Warrant's first tour. You went on that ride to success with them and you'll never forget. Back then you were in high school, skipping class and rolling down the highway, spraying your hair high and rocking out to "Big Talk." These days you might be a lawyer, financial analyst or teacher... but you're still clicking to "Big Talk" on your iPod. Will today's artists have that sort of magic, that sort of staying power? Some might, but the chosen class will be far fewer than what we've been blessed with over the years.
I'm pleased with the amount of positive comments from fellow musicians remembering Jani. For whatever reason, Jani was a tortured soul with too much talent and not enough self-confidence. Such is the case with most fallen rock stars.