Jane’s Addiction, on paper, hardly look like a contender to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their first try. After all, they were broken up for a good portion of the past 30 years, . Their studio LP catalog is only knee-deep while fellow Class of 2017 nominees Pearl Jam have three times as many releases under their belt. But there’s an intangible appeal that frontman Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro drummer Stephen Perkins and perpetually estranged bassist Eric Avery have which makes them a no-brainer for induction. If that’s not enough, here are five additional reasons why they should be saluted.
While the majority of bands in late-80s Los Angeles were focusing on the amount of spandex in their dresser drawer and how much hairspray they needed to be noticed as the next Poison or Warrant, Jane’s Addiction were blazing their own, very distinctive path. They looked and sounded different from any other act in Southern California, and not in a bad way.
"What we're going to do is going to blow people away," Farrell told the Los Angeles Times in 1987 when they only had a live album on an indie label released. "When we get out there, we're going to do things no one else has ever done. Musically, we're already light-years ahead."
When the glam bubble burst and grunge arrived, Jane’s Addiction were already well-respected godfathers of the burgeoning alternative scene, revered by up-and-comers like the Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine. Their style of punk, funk, rock and fearlessness of acoustic guitars drew comparisons to everyone from the Stooges to Led Zeppelin. More important than the similarity to the '70s rock and roll behemoths was showing the new kids that turning the volume up or down was okay, and that the decades prior were not the enemy and should be embraced. Jane’s Addiction is the bridge between two distinct eras.
The Parents Music Resource Center was still a censorship committee to be feared when Jane’s Addiction hit, but rather than try to slide in under the radar, they poked the bear. Nothing’s Shocking, their major label debut on Warner Bros., featured a sculpture of a pair of naked women joined at the shoulder and hip with their heads on fire. According to Dave Thompson in his book Alternative Rock, “Seven major chain retailers refused to stock the record.” Other balked and insisted it be wrapped in brown paper. Then the video for the second single from the album, “Mountain Song,” was banned by MTV due to nudity.
The group responded by offering record stores two versions of follow-up, Ritual de lo Habitual, one featured an image of a naked man and woman, the other had black-typed text from the First Amendment printed on a white background.
You can’t mention Jane’s Addiction without talking about Lollapalooza. Designed by Farrell in 1991 as a multi-band farewell vehicle for Jane’s, but it had such momentum that it became an annual multi-genre touring festival that ran through 1997. It was the premier happening to catch headliners like Beastie Boys, Tool and Soundgarden along with then-breaking artists such as Stone Temple Pilots, the Roots and Green Day. Following a downturn in the touring festival market and failed revival in the early '00s, Lollapalooza has found a second wind - and home - as a destination event each August in Chicago.
Lack of Material, Abundance of Influence
Jane’s Addiction has released just four proper studio albums over a three-decade period. The first two albums laid the foundation that numerous outfits used as a blueprint for their own success. Whether it’s in attempting to deliver a mixture of musical styles and succeeding, or pushing the boundaries of a live show to the limit, taking a cue from Jane’s is one of the best moves a band can make.