The band Warrant is another success story from the hair metal movement of the 1980’s. They emerged from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and continue to tour to this day. Their sound has evolved through the years, but their glam metal hits are what their faithful fans enjoy the most. Warrant was formed in 1984 by guitarist Erik Turner. Drummer Max Asher, bass guitarist Chris Vincent, singer Adam Shore and guitarist Josh Lewis completed their original lineup. After swapping Vincent out for Jerry Dixon on bass, the band started playing regular gigs in California, opening for Ted Nugent, Stryper and other popular rock bands.
In 1986, Asher and Shore left Warrant to form the band Hot Wheelz. Later that fall, Turner attended a concert featuring local rockers Plain Jane. He later invited the group’s drummer Steven Sweet and frontman Jani Lane to join Warrant. They graciously accepted the invitation, and along with new guitarist Joey Allen, became the final pieces of Warrant’s now-classic lineup.
They made a name for themselves in the Los Angeles club circuit, and began shopping their demo around. Columbia Records signed the group in 1988, and they quickly began work on their debut album. Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich debuted in January 1989 and soon became a top 10 hit on the Billboard 200 album chart. Their songs were featured heavily in MTV rotation and the group began touring with Queensryche, Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella and other popular rock bands.
Their follow up album, Cherry Pie, was released in September 1990, and was an even bigger success than their first record. It peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and sold over three million copies. Warrant soon embarked on lengthy tours with Poison, David Lee Roth, Trixter and FireHouse.
Warrant’s third studio album, Dog Eat Dog, came out in August 1992. While it was critically acclaimed, it was not nearly as popular as their first two efforts. The group went on a European tour in support of the record, including several shows during the Monsters of Rock tour that was headlined by Iron Maiden.
After the tour, Lane took a break for about a year to perform as a solo artist. At about the same time, Columbia dropped Warrant from their record label. Lane returned in 1994 and the band played a small series of club dates in the United States. Later that year, guitarist Joey Allen and drummer Steven Sweet. They were replaced by Rick Steier and James Kottak, respectively. Warrant signed with CMC Records that fall and started working on their next album.
Their fourth release, Ultraphonic, came out in March 1995 and was stylistically different from their previous albums. The group realized the popularity of grunge rock, and adapted their style accordingly. Warrant continued to tour extensively, playing many cities in the US, Europe and Japan.
Kottak left the band in 1996 and was replaced behind the drum kit by Bobby Borg. The band’s first greatest hits album, The Best of Warrant, also came out that year and was a solid seller. The group went by the moniker WARRANT 96 to signify their change in music direction and released their fifth studio album, Belly To Belly, that October. It continued their grunge elements and was described as more of a concept album. It featured some insightful songwriting by Lane, but didn’t go over so well with their loyal fans.
Warrant opened for Alice Cooper along with their friends in Slaughter and Dokken in the summer of 1997. Their first live album, Warrant Live 86-97, was released that July. That fall, drummer Bobby Borg departed and was temporarily replaced by Vikki Foxx. The group’s second hits collection, Greatest & Latest, debuted in 1999 and featured re-recorded versions of some of their classics.
Guitarist Rick Steier and keyboardist/drummer Danny Wagner left Warrant at the start of the new decade. Kerri Kelli joined the group on guitar and Mike Fasano became the group’s next drummer. Their sixth album, Under The Influence, came out in May 2001. It was Warrant’s first album of cover songs (along with a couple of new original tracks). Warrant toured with Poison that summer, but the tour was cut short due to a back injury suffered by Poison’s bass guitarist Bobby Dall.
In 2002, singer Jani Lane released his debut solo album, Back Down To One. The album’s poppier sound was quite a departure from his work in Warrant. The band was featured on the Rock Never Stops tour in 2003 and 2004, with Kevin Phares on drums. Lane later entered rehab for drugs and alcohol.
After rehab. Jani decided to leave Warrant. He tried to start his own version of the band, but was met with the threat of legal action by his former bandmates. Steven Sweet and Joey Allen rejoined Warrant in 2004, and Jaime St. James was introduced as the new singer. Their seventh studio record, Born Again, debuted in February 2006. The band went on tour again, playing at the annual Rocklahoma music festival in 2007.
In early 2008, Lane was featured in Warrant’s publicity photos with the rest of their classic lineup. The group was set to play Rocklahoma again that summer and then embark on a tour with Cinderella. Unfortunately, the tour was cancelled because of Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer’s left vocal cord hemorrhage. Warrant did play a few summer dates, but in September, Lane was out of Warrant again. A compilation DVD of the reunion shows, They Came From Hollywood, was released later that year. Former Lynch Mob member Robert Mason became Warrant’s new frontman.
Warrant released their eighth studio album, Rockaholic, in May 2011. It reached #22 on the Billboard Top Hard Rock albums chart. The group went back on the road for the Rockaholic Tour, playing over four dozen dates with Poison and Cinderella in the US and Canada. Tragedy struck in August, when their former singer Jani Lane was found dead of acute alcohol poisoning in Woodland Hills, California. A public memorial for Lane featuring performances by Great White, L.A. Guns, Quiet Riot and other rock musicians was held at the Key Club in Hollywood, California later that month.
In 2012, Warrant went on tour with Trixter and FireHouse to celebrate the 21st album of their Cherry Pie album. The group’s ninth studio album, Louder Harder Faster, came out in May 2017. It took on more of a country sound on a few tracks, but still remained faithful to their rock and roll core.
Here are ten of the best Warrant songs:
# 10 – Blind Faith
Warrant’s fourth career ballad cracked the top 100 charts in the United States. Released on the album Cherry Pie, the acoustic intro grabs the listeners’ attention. Lane’s vocals and Erik Turner’s electric guitar quickly turn the mellow ballad into a catchy tune that stays stuck in your head for a long time.
# 9 – The Hole In My Wall
You may remember this Dog Eat Dog single because of the voice box guitar parts. One of Warrant’s heavier songs, it evokes some strong emotions. Some have interpreted the lyrics to be about Lane’s battles with addictive substances.
# 8 – Sometimes She Cries
The fourth single from Warrant’s debut album quickly became a rock radio hit. It’s a prime example of the talent the classic lineup had. From an excellent guitar solo to inspired lyrics, the track is one that should be in any fan’s best-of list. A soulful, heartfelt song that no other band can replicate.
# 7 – Machine Gun
This Dog Eat Dog song evokes comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and other legendary classic rock bands. It’s an underrated track that shows how Warrant was trying to keep ahead of the likes of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and other up and coming groups from the grunge movement of the early 90’s. It was also one of the last songs to hit the rock top 40 charts for the band.
# 6 – The Bitter Pill
This track was the fifth single from Dog Eat Dog. It’s unique because it features an interlude by the “Moron Fish and Tackle Choir.” The choir was composed of janitors, security guards, office personnel, engineers and anyone else who was available when the song was being tracked. Warrant released both electric and acoustic versions of this song.
# 5 – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
The third single from Cherry Pie is a song that many Warrant fans know should have been the title of that album. It got its title from the famed novel written by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Listening to the lyrics, some have postulated that it alludes to racism and injustice that occurred during the Civil Rights movement in the US in the 1960’s. The band, however, has yet to give a definitive explanation as to what the lyrics really mean.
# 4 – I Saw Red
The second radio single from Cherry Pie had a lot of personal meaning for Jani Lane. It was inspired by true-life betrayal. Lane wrote the lyrics to the song after having walked in on his girlfriend at the time in bed with his best friend. This led to Lane having a nervous breakdown, which ended up delaying the release of Warrant’s first album.
# 3 – Down Boys
The first song off of Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich was many people’s first exposure to Warrant. The record label certainly picked a great, heavy song to debut! It peaked at #13 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and remains one of their hardest-hitting songs to date.
# 2 – Heaven
The second single from Warrant’s first record was their most successful track. It charted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. The song was originally written and recorded by drummer Steven Sweet and singer Jani Lane’s former band Plain Jane. The song was so popular that record label executives asked Warrant to re-record it so that it would sound more radio-friendly. It has also taken on new meaning for fans of the band since Lane’s death.
# 1 – Cherry Pie
Although the music video has been lauded as one of the worst of all time, the title track from Warrant’s sophomore album is one of their most loved songs. The track has been described as a rock anthem for a generation. Some of the lyrics are quite obvious in their meaning, while others are a little more subtle. It’s a song that diehard fans will definitely never forget!
Warrant doesn’t play stadium tours or outdoor festivals like they used to, but they’re still very active. They are currently touring in the US for the thirtieth anniversary of their first album. Their performances are still legendary, and they honor their glam metal and hard rock roots. Another great band that’s well worth the money spent on concert tickets and merchandise every time they’re in town.