Before there was alternative rock in the 1990s definition (a.k.a. grunge), Los Angeles originals Jane’s Addiction were forcefully merging the realms of art rock and glam rock, heavy metal and punk, mainstream and underground with their volatile fusions of musical style and substance. Formed in 1985 by vocalist Perry Farrell and bassist Eric Avery, Jane’s Addiction took its name from Farrell’s then roommate before solidifying its classic lineup with the arrival of drummer Stephen Perkins and guitar hero-in-waiting Dave Navarro. Together, the foursome took the L.A. club scene by storm and eventually settled a bidding war by signing with Warner Bros. for a historic advance. But first the band insisted on releasing their eponymous debut album (recorded live at the Roxy, on the Strip, for under $4,000) through Triple X Records, before their attentions turned to preparing their eclectic sophomore breakthrough, Nothing’s Shocking. This sold modestly throughout 1988, becoming a critically acclaimed sleeper hit, until it earned a surprise Grammy nomination for best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, on the same controversial ballot that saw Jethro Tull defeating Metallica for the gold hardware. But the changing tides of musical fashions and Jane’s Addiction’s would soon creative daring converged with uncanny timing in 1990, when their third opus, Ritual de lo Habitual seemed to capture the musical zeitgeist of the emerging Generation X, as the band headlined the first ever Lollapalooza festival, conceived by Farrell. Shockingly, Jane’s Addiction also preemptively announced their breakup around this time, and astutely left their ardent following clamoring for more. Farrell and Perkins soon formed Porno for Pyros while Navarro eventually replaced John Frusciante in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But the allure of financial rewards and the mending of personal fences eventually revived Jane’s Addiction (with Chili Peppers bassist Flea subbing for Avery) for 1997’s “Relapse” tour and Kettle Whistle live LP. This set the tone for occasional third millennium reunions (including a brief return by Avery between 2008-10) that have produced two studio albums in 2003’s Strays and 2011’s Escape Artist, as well as several arena-packing tours. Jane’s Addiction may now clearly inhabit the musical mainstream, but their cutting edge aesthetics will always provide an unbreakable thread back to their underground origins.
- Selected Discography: Nothing’s Shocking (1988), Ritual de lo Habitual (1990), The Great Escape Artist (2011)
- Related Artists: Porno for Pyros, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Infectious Grooves, Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro
- Further Reading: Jane’s Addiction Honored at 2014 Sunset Strip Music Festival