Even in the world of frosted-hair 80s frontmen, Jani Lane was hardly (at all) bad ass.
Still, the basset-hound eyed lead singer of Warrant left a massive impression on me as a writer and human.
It was 1991, and gladiators wore spandex not kevlar. Lane and his band were arguably at their peak when they arrived in Morrison, CO in support of their massive second album, Cherry Pie.
I spent A LOT of time at Red Rocks amphitheater in 1991 and 1992. (Red Rocks is an outdoor mecca which has hosted the Beatles and where, on 6/8/1983, U2 began their climb to world domination.) I even recall seeing 4 shows in a week on at least one occasion.
The 1991 season closed September 22 with a show from then-white-hot Warrant, and I was in the audience on that cool fall evening.
It was the encore that I’ll never forget. The band returned to the stage, but Lane was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the lights went up, and there was Lane standing among the crowd in maybe the tenth row. As he introduced the band’s next song, snow began to fall.
His intro, long lost and windblown to the years that have since passed, went roughly along these lines.
“This next song… Well it’s… I can’t believe this. It’s snowing… I think this song is about a place just like this.”
As he began to play the introduction to his bands first and forever greatest hit, Heaven, this impressionable writer was never to be the same.
LESSON: One’s success matters little when compared to the power of a moment.
LESSON: Whatever we plan to say, nature is the ultimate wordsmith.
LESSON: Humility is truly the baddest ass thing one can example.
It’s this last lesson that became the most impactful. Not that I’m great with humility, or timely gratitude, but that Lane was… It was something to aspire to.
The idea that a boyhood dream had come true, for singer and audience… It’s why each plays and/or attends a show.
The same can be said for that connection between writer and reader, at least that’s a belief that drives me.
Jani Lane passed in 2011 at only 47 years of age, and I hope his life was filled with more nights like that cool September evening in Morrison, CO.
Even if not, and in honor of his lesson, I’ll settle for being grateful that I was there that night when the universe left a frontman speechless.