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Warrant singer Jani Lane, found dead Friday, didn't like 'Cherry Pie'

AKRON, Ohio -- John Kennedy Oswald, better known to music fans as Jani Lane, was best known for two songs: "Cherry Pie" and "Heaven," both of which he wrote but only one of which he actually liked.

AKRON, Ohio -- John Kennedy Oswald, better known to music fans as Jani Lane, was best known for two songs: "Cherry Pie" and "Heaven," both of which he wrote but only one of which he actually liked.

The lead singer and primary songwriter for 1980s arena metal band Warrant was found dead Thursday evening at age 47 in a Comfort Inn in Los Angeles. The cause of death has not been released.

Lane, a native of Akron, became a rock star during the late '80s hair- and glam-metal era, which dovetailed perfectly with the rise of videos and MTV. Warrant scored a hit with the power ballad "Heaven" from its debut, "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich." But it was sophomore album "Cherry Pie" and its double-entendre-driven title track that managed to both elevate the band to arena-level stardom and reduce it to a novelty act in the eyes and ears of many music fans.

Lane grew up listening to WMMS-FM and at age 6 got a drum set from his older brother, Eric, that he played relentlessly. Eric, who played in local bands, including the Red Buckles and Touchstone, also gave his younger brother his first guitar.

Soon young John was playing drums in bars as Mitch Dynamite, and by the time he graduated in 1982, he had started a band called Cyren.

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He left Northeast Ohio to seek his fortunes in Florida and then California, where he adopted the name Jani Lane and in 1986 joined a group called Warrant. The band released "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" in 1988, selling 2 million copies.

When Warrant finished recording its follow-up album, executives at the band's label, Columbia, didn't hear a single and demanded Lane write one quickly.

"I wanted the title of that record to be 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' (featuring brother Eric playing the song's acoustic guitar intro), which was a song I was really proud of at the time. But the label told me they needed me to write a song like Aerosmith's 'Love in an Elevator,' which did not interest me at all," Lane told former Akron Beacon Journal writer Chuck Klosterman in 2001.

"But I did what they asked. I went home and wrote the song 'Cherry Pie' in one night. And somehow that became the title of the album, the first single and the entire image of the band.

"Now, granted -- they were right. We sold a million records in a month. But when the backlash eventually came, it wasn't against the guys at Columbia who were making those decisions. It was against Warrant."

The song was a big hit, reaching No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the album's second single, "I Saw Red," also made the top 10. But "Cherry Pie" became Lane's musical albatross, his signature song for better and for worse.

In the early 1990s, hair- and glam-metal's popularity dropped precipitously as Nirvana's "Nevermind" and the wave of grunge bands that followed brought indie and punk rock to the mainstream.

Warrant released "Dog Eat Dog" in 1993, featuring a harder-edged sound. The album was critically well received, peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200, and is considered the band's best by many fans.

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Lane left the group shortly after that release, returned to record three more albums, then left for good in 2002 because of business and personal problems.

Lane released a solo album, "Back Down to One," in 2003.

Lane struggled with alcohol and drug addiction throughout his adult life and appeared on "Celebrity Fit Club 2" in 2005. In the summer of 2010, Lane toured with Great White, replacing singer Jack Russell.

Members of Warrant released a statement: "We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Jani's passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

"Jani was a very important part of our lives for a long time. We will always be incredibly proud of the music we created together."

Lane was married three times, first to model Bobbie Brown, who was featured in the "Cherry Pie" video. According to his website and Twitter profile, Lane's third wife is named Kimberly, and he leaves behind four children: Taylar, Brittany, Madison and Ryan.

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