How Prince Helped Jumpstart Warrant’s Career
Warrant received an early boost from a high-profile donor before briefly becoming one of the biggest rock bands on the Sunset Strip. At that time, Prince thought he wanted a piece of the proverbial cherry pie.
In an interview with AL.com, Warrant bassist Jerry Dixon explains that Prince gave Warrant some $5,000 in the fall of 1987 to record a three-song demo for his label, Paisley Park Records, under the condition that he had first the right of refusal. Prince ultimately invoked it, apparently after watching live footage of the band. Discussing frontman Jani Lane, Prince reportedly said: "This white kid can sing, and the band has potential, but motherfucker can't dance."
“He passed on us, dude," Dixon recalled. "So we asked our manager, ‘Could you ask Mr. Prince if we can use the demo to shop to another label?’”
The band used their Prince-funded demo, which contained the future hit “Down Boys,” to secure a deal. Columbia Records released Warrant's 1989 debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich and Prince “probably laughed about it,” Dixon added. “He liked us, but maybe breaking a rock band wasn’t his label’s forte, I guess. There were a lot of those along the way.”
Warrant Also Impressed Michael Jackson
Prince wasn’t the only pop megastar that Warrant attracted on their come-up. The band’s slick leather duds, created by Al Bane, also inspired Michael Jackson. He employed Bane to design his look for 1987’s Bad.
Bane was selling his material out of a venue called the Country Club in Reseda, Calif., when Jackson took an interest in him. “Somebody in their camp for like $25,000 bought this guy’s entire booth,” Dixon said. “So, that was that. We were all honored. Imitation’s flattery, they say.”
The admiration didn’t stop there. The cover of Warrant’s debut album featured a drawing by Mark Ryden of “Fugazi,” this bulbous, money-grubbing business tycoon. Ryden’s work also graced the cover of Jackson’s 1991 album Dangerous – along with Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator” single, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ One Hot Minute and more.
Prince’s initial interest in Warrant turned out to be justified, as Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich and its follow-up Cherry Pie were both double-platinum smashes. But the band fell by the wayside amid the grunge revolution — just another sign o’ the times, to quote their early benefactor.
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Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli