HI…JANI LANE here! For the first time in my career I’m taking the time to write my own bio. Something always seems to get lost in the translation when you have a third party handle something so personal (names politely omitted) Anyway, since I’ve been known to write a thing or two…here goes.
I was born Feb.1 1964 in Akron Ohio. My mother, Eileen Oswald, was a huge JFK fan and was heartbroken over the recent assassination. My father, Robert Oswald (no relation to Lee Harvey, whatsoever “for the 10 millionth time”) was a stout, German, blue collar, tire maker and Democrat. Needless to say, he was also a big JFK fan. Long story short, in tribute to, in my opinion, the last “REAL” President, my brilliant parents (I loved them both dearly) decided to name me John Kennedy Oswald…no joke. After about a month of harassing phone calls they changed my name to John Patrick Oswald and I was off and running!
At the age of 6 my brother, Eric Oswald bought me my first kit of drums and turned me on to a record called “Rubber Soul” by the Beatles. My brother was an exceptional guitarist who had already played with the likes of Joe Walsh and thought it would be cool to have a little jamming buddy…he’s 13 yrs. my elder. I loved the drums from second 1 and was special guesting in clubs by the age of 11 (playing out professionally by 15) Before I go to far into the music thing…sports!
My father and brother were huge football, boxing guys..in our house OHIO STATE RULED and the Browns were big as well. I played QB and won 2 pop warner (jr. high) Championships, won the local kick, pass and punt competition 3 yrs. straight and was recruited by St. Vincent- St. Mary high school, (LeBron James) played there then transferred to an all boys, catholic high school, Arch Bishop of Hoban, another Akron Championship team, started there for a year then made my 1st in many, women related, mistakes….I transferred back to my local school as a sophomore because I missed my GF…we broke up a month later
Back at Field Local H.S. Mogodore Ohio, I was bored! My football coach was the principal and an ex-marine…he didn’t like my long hair…wouldn’t let me even try out for QB even though, in his last game, lost 40-0 to a team I had beaten, while QB at Hoban, 44-0! I relegated myself to cleaning peoples clocks at strong safety for the next 3 yrs. (Got mine cleaned a few times too!) I also started at forward for the basketball team for 3yrs. as well. I also was playing soccer for a collegiate level team called “German Family Society” started at left wing and won a National Championship there.
While at Field H.S. I also became a “National Thespian” and fell in deep like with musical theater…played lead in such classics as Pajama Game, Showboat, Pippin, Oklahoma and Arsenic and Old Lace…btw…my brother fought 3yrs. in the Golden Gloves and I was his sparring partner. I took out my frustrations on my friend, Gene Slater, who has since thanked me…he not only owns a fabulous BBQ rest. in Memphis but went on to be a National Kick Boxing Champ. I scored in the top 98% of the U.S. in my SAT’s…but wait…there’s more…
Back to music “My True Love!” I was playing from age 6, drums, 4-6 hours a day. I would sit-in in night clubs by 11. I already had a stage name “Mitch Dynamite” I lived 3 miles from Kent, home of Kent State University…HUGE party town! I was playing clubs in my first band “Cyren” by the time I was 15…clubs made famous by other North East Ohio musicians like Chrissy Hynde (Pretenders) Ben Orr (The Cars) Devo, Joe Walsh (The James Gang…later The Eagles), Todd Rundgren, Eric Carmen (The Rasberries)…the list goes on…Trent Reznor and Mushroomhead followed me.
My brother handed me a guitar at 12 and my parents had an old piano. I was writing and recording my own songs by my early teens. At 18 I was torn. I had a partial scolarship to K.S.U. for musical theatre, I was pretty damn good in sports but I loved Rock-N-Roll. (actually, everything from Zep, Preist, Thin Lizzy, Queen, Beatles, Bowie, Disco, Funk and of course…THE BEATLES!) fyi…this is really skimming the surface…I was and have always been all over the place musically.
I asked my dad, Ozzie, (also my nickname from childhood) what I should do. He said go to college and get a degree. Please understand my dad was already a published author, into spirit writing (wrote with his eyes closed with both hands at the same time in 2 different languages and spoke 3 languages…we fought about it (phsically) and I left for Florida that night..I had an offer from a band down there. fyi…I didn’t return home once for the next 3yrs.
I played drums and sang in a very popular cover band in Fla. called “Dorian Grey.” I toured the state for 3yrs. living out of hotels and playing other people’s music (frustrating as hell but fun) I was writing a lot and really wanted to perform my songs. I got together with 2 of my friends, Al Collins and Steven Chamberlin “Sweet” and decided to move to Hollywood. I heard the Sunset Strip was kicking ass…I thought if bands like Ratt and Motley Crue could do it so could I. We had no $$ so I sold my drums and we started driving…we broke down in every state.
We arrived in Hollywood, Ca. in the spring of ’85 with $20 bucks to our name. Al had his parents wire some cash and we crashed for a week at the Hollywood Bowl Motel…I got a telegram saying my father had had 2 strokes and was on life support so I flew home. They pulled the plug on him that night and the tough S.O.B. lived 9 more yrs. (he became my biggest fan) I wrote a song called “Heaven” while I was home and the guys loved it when I came back to L.A. and played it for them. While I was in Ohio they had found an English guitarist named Mikki Doll…we formed a band called “Plain Jane” and started opening a lot for a band called Guns & Roses. Meanwhile there was this, pain in the ass, competition band called Warrant who was opening all over town for a band called Poison. We did this for the next year and in ’86 G-N-R and Poison got signed…we couldn’t get arrested!
Steven and I agreed we were starving and decided to move back to Fla. That night a note was left on our apartment door saying “We’re the guys from Warrant. Our singer and drummer just quit. If you can write songs come down to DB sound rehearsal and lets see what happens.” Steve and I went down and I played them Down Boys, Heaven and DRFSR. They said, “You’re in!” and the rest is history…almost.
I told you I sold my drums…when we got to L.A. I was told since I was the only blonde and could sing…be the LEAD SINGER! I did just that.
Warrant quickly became the biggest draw on the “strip” but we still couldn’t get a sniff from a record label. We met a manager, Jamie S. who had done some work with Prince. She intorduced us and he gave us $7,000 to do demo’s because he was looking for a rock band to sign to “Paisley Park.” We cut the demo’s and shot a video the night we broke Van Halen’s attendance record at a club called Gazzri’s. He saw the video and said.” the singer can’t dance but go ahead and use the demo’s to try somewhere else”…we did…no luck.
A&M records heard the demos and put one of the songs in “Bill& Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” The song wound up on the cutting room floor and so did A&M’s interest. Steven and I were ready to move home again but little to our knowledge a fellow by the name of Tom Hullet was on a plane back from N.Y. Tom was a manager ( Beach Boys, Moody Blues, 3 Dog Night etc.) He was talking to his friend Doc McGee (Bon Jovi, Motley Crue) By the end of the flt. Tom had been convinced to grab up a “Hair Metal Band” so he did…us. We were signed to CBS/Columbia a month later.
Our 1st record (DRFSR) came out on my birthday of ’89. “Down Boys” went to #17 and the video was a on MTV…”Heaven” went #1 that summer and so did the video. I was shocked!!!! We went on tour for the next 16 months opening for Motley Crue. We had a couple more hits “Sometimes She Cries” and ” Big Talk”. While on tour with Motley I wrote most of the next record (the rest when we got home) I intended to call it “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. We recorded summer of ’90 and when we were done the President of Columbia Records said”Jani, you know I’m a big Aerosmith fan…can you give me one more track? Something kitchy and sexy like “Love in an Elevator?” I wrote “Cherry Pie” that night and sent it off to N.Y. the next day. I’ve been the “Cherry Pie Guy” ever since. That song went #7 and the video was infamous worldwide. “I Saw Red” went #5 “Blind Faith” went #27 and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” went top 40. We toured and toured some more.
In the mean time, I married the girl from the “Cherry Pie” video, Bobbie Brown, and we had a daughter, Taylar. She’s 19 now and going to college on a journalism scholarship. I’m very proud of her! During this time I heard a song called “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I felt impending doom! I wanted to hate it but I couldn’t…it was that good. I locked myself in my home studio, in Sherman Oaks, Ca., for 4 weeks. I wrote the entire record “Dog Eat Dog” in that time. We rushed into the studio and recorded it and it was released to a luke warm response…grunge had arrived. It went gold but things were tough. Our manager died, my dad died, I got divorced, money was tight, I opened a night club in Fla. (Jani Lane’s Sunset Strip) and the band kept playing and recording. I just kept writing songs…thats always been my friend and therapist (when I finish this bio I’m headed down to my studio to begin work on about 8 new songs).
We released “Ultraphobic” in ’95 and “Belly To Belly” in ’96. I released a solo record “Back Down To One” in “03. I have a 20 song project called “Jabberwocky” that will see the light of day…soon. I got re-married and had another daughter, Madison (huge Justin Beiber fan) who I’m extremely proud of as well. I got divorced again and left Warrant in ’02 due to business differences. I’ve done 3 movies “High Strung”, “Caged Fear” and “Bodyguard” and I recently remarried to the love of my life, Kimberly. I’ve done television, movies, blah, blah, blah. I’m starting to bore myself so, needless to say…You can hear my music worldwide on a host of different formats, movies, television, satelite, radio, the internet etc. Thank you Armed Forces…I have a U.S.O. Commendation and my brother was 6 yrs. Air force.
Thanks for listening and know that everyday above ground is a gift and I’m truly grateful for each and every one of you!!! SEE YOU ON TOUR THIS YEAR!
PS..remeber, “If you only talk and don’t listen, you only learn what you already know.” My mother died on Thanksgiving Day 2004. I will miss her forever. She was my guiding light. I have 3 sisters Marcine, Michelle and Victoria.
And YES, I LOVE THE SONG “CHERRY PIE!!!” ….SWING IT!!