One of my favorite co-workers I like to trade stories with at Amoeba is dear to me for his deep appreciation of all kinds of heavy metal, especially glam/hair metal. Though he's a bit older than me, I'll never forget the day we bonded over our knowledge of obscure (read: tragic) hair metal bands. Floodgates opened and we discussed everything from Bang Tango's singular hit, "Someone Like You," to Pretty Boy Floyd's album Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz and their singular saving grace (ultimately, their hair). Clearly we could go on for days as, it seemed to me anyway, I had no one else at work with whom I could discuss late eighties Hollywood glitter rock and still feel comfortable with myself afterwards.
One of my favorite stories this person shared with me involves Warrant, a band that almost always suffered comparison to Poison yet never eclipsed, or even slightly reached, Poison's level of glam-rock stardom. Perhaps that explains why my friend saw them playing in a crappy night club in Fresno. The story is short and amounts to this: at sometime during the gig he stole backstage and lifted a number of items from Warrant, namely a bottle of White Rain shampoo. Now, maybe it's not that funny to everyone, but I clutched my gut in laughter upon hearing this. White Rain! The bottom shelf of hair products! These glamorous guys, who obviously pride themselves on their hair, couldn't get it together to get some Panteen Pro-V or Mane and Tail (being the show ponies they were). I have to admit that I was and still am inclined to think the worst of Warrant -- I was never a fan, not even a little, of their music and their frontman, a man called Jani Lane, frightened me in an Edgar Winter way. To me their music was a tepid, obvious attempt at following Poison's lead (and so was Jani Lane's romance with"spokesmodel" Bobbi Brown, who happened to be Poison frontman Bret Michael's ex-girlfriend) and it was even rumored that Warrant's two guitarists Erik Turner and Joey Allen hadn't played even a shred of a note on Warrant's debut album though they received credit for it. To top it all off, the most annoying girl in my school, who was also my best friends' neighbor and confidante, loved them and Warrant quickly became the crux of our rivalry. And so the very thought of Warrant roughing it on the road with dollar store bought White Rain set me snickering. It was too perfect. And to think that Warrant's debut album was titled Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich-- hardly.
Later on I got to thinking about all those wanna-be rock stars featured in Penelope Spheeris' documentary Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and my laughing slowly subsided into a kind of internal choke. Remembering all those faces staring directly at the camera proclaiming, "Oh yes, I'm gonna make big one day. Definitely. Without a doubt," really hit home. I wonder just how many rockers made the pilgrimage to Hollywood with a mind to find fame and fortune. I thought of my brother (pictured second from the right with his band Trauma Kamp) and how he moved to Hollywood around that time with only what I can imagine to be the same dream of making it big in the music business (and let me tell you, not only did he survive the strip, he's got endless yarns of killer stories about the madness that is, er was, er probably still is, the Hollywood rock scene). Suddenly I was furious at my friend. How could he steal such vital items from a hair metal band on the road like he's stealing food stamps from the needy? The ridiculousness of my anger started me laughing again and I giggled my way over to my dusty video shelf to look for my copy of The Metal Years, only to find it missing, stolen perhaps by a fellow coworker and metal enthusiast whose name just happens to rhyme with the latter syllable of the word Warrant.