The Untold Truth Of Jane's Addiction

When it comes to essential alternative bands, you've got your staples: Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, The Pixies, Nine Inch Nails, etc. These bands are often seen as the ones who didn't only put alternative on mainstream's map, but solidified it as a complex yet beautiful genre that had some serious rock chops. There was one band, though, that brought alternative out of L.A.'s underground and onto the world's stage, leading the way for future alternative bands: Jane's Addiction

Singer Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and bassist Eric Avery were the four original members of Jane's Addiction, a talented but tumultuous band that rose to prominence in L.A.'s alternative scene in the late '80s (via All Music.) Young and creative, with a love of music and, at times, the urge to throw punches at one another on stage (via Vanity Fair), Jane's Addiction sent a clear message to the masses: They totally rocked and had a sound that wasn't to be ignored. But where exactly did that sound come from? Well, that answer lies in a long-gone era: mid-'80s L.A.

Jane's Addiction was created in Los Angeles

According to Billboard, Jane's Addiction was formed in Los Angeles back in 1985 (via Kerrang) after Perry Farrell's post-punk band, Psi Com, broke up. The book "Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction" explains that Farrell became Psi Com's lead singer in the early '80s thanks to an ad in a local classifieds paper. Psi Com released a self-titled EP in 1985 (via Discogs), but that same year, the band called it quits. Billboard reports that Farrell was still eager to make music post-Psi Com, so he got together with Eric Avery to start a new band. 

It was through their social circles that they met Stephen Perkins, who eventually got Dave Navarro an audition with the band. In an interview with Billboard, Navarro explained that he and Perkins were in a heavy metal band together when Perkins landed a spot in Jane's Addiction. When the guitarist they originally hired started flaking on them, Perkins suggested bringing Navarro in. Navarro and the others jammed together, he got the gig, and the rest is rock history.  

The band is named after Perry Farrell's housemate

Turns out, Jane's Addiction isn't just some cool band name Perry Farrell and company created out of the blue. Billboard reports that the band was named after a real person — specifically, one of Farrell's housemates at the time, Jane Bainter. In "Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction," Karyn Cantor, Bainter's first official photographer, explains that Bainter was an Ivy Leaguer with quite a drug problem. According to Billboard, Jane — and her heroin addiction — inspired the band's name, and she became their muse. 

Farrell, Dave Navarro, and Stephen Perkins described Bainter and how they felt about her. Farrell says they had good times with her, and that he found her "very strange and special." Navarro called her "a source of drama and ... energy," as well as "a beautiful soul" and "a damaged heart." Perkins explained that she had attitude, and that the band incorporated that attitude into their sound. 

Bainter didn't just inspire the band's name, though. According to The Washington Post, she also inspired one of their biggest hits, "Jane Says." If you listen to the lyrics, you hear Farrell sing about Jane, how she's done with Sergio, and how she'll kick her drug habit tomorrow. So, how does she feel about the song that gave the world a glimpse into her life? Bainter, who eventually did kick her heroin habit, appreciates the love people have for her namesake song. 

Dave Navarro was only 19 years old when he joined Jane's Addiction

Dave Navarro has some seriously impressive rockstar credentials to his name. He was the guitarist for The Red Hot Chili Peppers in the mid-'90s (via MTV), played guitar on Alanis Morissette's mega-successful song "You Outta Know" (via Ultimate Classic Rock), and even Axl Rose wanted him to join Guns N' Roses after guitarist Izzy Stradlin's departure. To say the "Ink Master" host is über talented is an understatement, and the gig that catapulted him to rockstar status was being the guitarist for Jane's Addiction. The kicker? Navarro was only 19 years old when he joined the band in 1986 (via Rolling Stone and All Music). Yeah, he had that much talent before he even entered his 20s. 

Navarro joined the band after being recommended by drummer Stephen Perkins. Fun fact: Navarro and Perkins had plenty of history together before they joined Jane's Addiction. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, they met as members of their high school marching band, but it wouldn't be long before they found themselves playing at L.A. clubs instead of on the football field. 

The band got their start in the Los Angeles club scene

In the '80s, glam metal was all the rage on the Sunset Strip. As Rolling Stone reports, bands like Poison, Mötley Crüe, Ratt, and Guns N' Roses rose to stardom in West Hollywood, boasting big hair, tight pants, loud riffs, and wicked antics. The glitz and glam of hair metal was certainly appealing, but there was another rock genre that demanded attention at that time in Los Angeles — alternative. Luckily, Jane's Addiction stepped in and helped cater to L.A.'s underground alternative audience. 

According to The Los Angeles Times, Jane's Addiction became the headlining band at Scream, an underground alternative club that opened in L.A. in 1985. Word about the band's fresh sound (a beautiful blend of several rock genres, including metal and punk, with dashes of funk and folk sprinkled here and there) spread like wildfire, and it wasn't long before they became a staple on the alternative scene (via Hollywood Walk of Fame). L.A. media was tuning in to the new sound rumbling in the city's underground, too. A 1987 piece from The Los Angeles Times reported that L.A. had a buzzing alternative scene for the first time in a decade, spotlighting Scream and Jane's Addiction as contributors.

They recorded their debut album during a performance at the Roxy Theatre

Given Jane's Addiction's exciting new sound and rising prominence in the underground alternative scene, it was only a matter of time before record label reps came knocking at their door. The Los Angeles Times reports that the band wound up signing with Warner Brothers, but in a surprising (but very cool) move, they didn't record their debut album in a studio. According to Billboard, they recorded a live album at the jam-packed Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood in 1987. It became their self-titled debut album, which was released in May that same year (via Houston Press) on Triple X Records. 

So, what exactly inspired the band to record a live debut album? Speaking to Billboard, Perry Farrell said it was an homage to their unfiltered, non-studio (and non-corporate) sound. It was that distinct sound that drew the labels to band, after all. 

Their 1988 studio album Nothing's Shocking wasn't a huge hit when released

Jane's Addiction went the studio route for their second album "Nothing's Shocking." The album actually features two of the band's most popular songs: "Jane Says" and "Mountain Song." Despite the band's popularity in the underground alt scene, the album only sold 200,000 copies in the first year it was released (via Billboard). Sure, that number isn't terrible for a new band freshly signed to a label, but it could have been better. Billboard reports on two of the factors that could have influenced the lower sales. First, radio stations weren't quick to play Jane's Addiction's music — it was still the hair metal era, after all. Second, a few bigger retailers refused to carry the album at first because of its cover art, which features a sculpture Perry Farrell created of two conjoined women, naked and hair ablaze. The record was eventually made retailer-friendly thanks to a paper sleeve masking the cover. 

While the mainstream was still trying to get a feel for Jane's Addiction, critics were quick to praise the album and the band's sound. A Rolling Stone review gave "Nothing's Shocking" four out of five stars and called Jane's Addiction "the true heir to Led Zeppelin" — one heck of a compliment for an up-and-coming band. Billboard reports that the album eventually sold more than a million copies after the success of two key things: Jane's Addiction's successful third album, and Lollapalooza. 

MTV banned the music video for Mountain Song

"Mountain Song" is one of those songs that demands your attention as soon as you hear the intro bass line. And once Perry Farrell enters with "coming down the mountain," you know you're in for something awesome. It only made sense to create a music video for such a powerful rock song. According to the opening credits in the video, footage for the "Mountain Song" video was from a live 1988 performance at Scream — but that's not all it features. As Rolling Stone reports, the original video also shows some NSFW footage of Farrell and his then-girlfriend, Casey Niccoli. The book "Rock And Roll: A Social History" specifies that the video contains clips of their nude bodies — clips that didn't fly with MTV. 

According to Rolling Stone, Farrell wouldn't cut the footage at first, which led to the video getting banned on MTV. The book "Perry Farrell: The Saga of a Hypester" explains that Farrell didn't want the nudity cut out because he felt it was a form of expression, and he also didn't want to cater to MTV's taste. He figured if MTV wouldn't air it, it would be seen through other avenues. Alas, the corporate music world got a small victory when, eventually, there was a censored version made where black bars and other shapes were put over Farrell and Niccoli's nether regions. 

The band first broke up in 1991 — after only three albums

By 1991, Jane's Addiction had three albums to their name. The third one, 1990's "Ritual de lo Habitual," had been their most successful to date. According to Rolling Stone, it sold more than 2 million records in the United States and made the top 20 on Billboard's Top 200 chart, breaking the band — and their sound — into the mainstream. Despite the success, there was undeniable tension in the band. As Guitar World reports, the band was on an intense touring schedule to promote "Ritual de lo Habitual," which didn't help matters to say the least. There were also distinct lifestyle differences in the group, as highlighted in a Spin profile. The article details how Perry Farrell and Stephen Perkins embraced the rock and roll lifestyle in the road, whereas Eric Avery and Dave Navarro wanted to lead a quieter, not-so-partying lifestyle. 

Guitar World reports that in-band fighting (which turned into actual fighting at some of their shows) also contributed to the band's 1991 break up. Farrell explained that there were emotional and creative reasons for breaking up, too, saying "I felt that I couldn't go on expressing ideas because they were getting constantly knocked down." 

Lollapalooza was created because of Jane's Addiction

It was time for Jane's Addiction to part ways in 1991, but in true rockstar fashion, Perry Farrell didn't want the band to go out without a bang. According to Britannica, he planned a multi-city farewell tour in the U.S. and Canada called Lollapalooza, which also featured acts like Nine Inch Nails and Rollins Band. Time Out reports that acts like Violent Femmes and Ice-T also performed. It wasn't just a tour, though — it was an experience unlike anything that was going on at the time. There was a carnival feel to it — an enticing festival atmosphere during a time where huge music festivals weren't really a thing; an odd thing to think about now in the age of Coachella and Bonnaroo. 

To Farrell's credit, he took a chance on Lollapalooza that paid off big time. It was so successful that a 1992 tour was planned — this time, with a second stage. According to Time Out, it grew so much in the '90s that bands like Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Sonic Youth graced its stages. Lollapalooza went through several changes over the years until 2005, when it made itself a home in one location: Chicago (via Britannica). It's been held in the Windy City ever since.

Jane's Addiction reunited in 1997 — without Eric Avery

When listening to Jane's Addiction's music, you hear something really unique and special; an undeniable blend of raw talent and pure creativity that's bliss to the rock fan's ears. It's that special sound that's influenced the band to reunite over the years. According to the Associated Press, Jane's Addiction first reunited in 1997 — well, most of the band did anyways. Bassist Eric Avery chose not to join the reunion, so Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea stepped in for the band's Relapse Tour. He wasn't a permanent fixture in the band, though — he played with Jane's Addiction on tour, but he stepped away from playing reunion shows with them in 2001 to focus on the Red Hot Chili Peppers (via Billboard). Rolling Stone reports that Avery eventually joined the band again in 2008, but left in 2010. According to Alternative Nation, Avery left after a falling out with Farrell, but the two have since reconciled.

Since their first 1997 reunion, Jane's Addiction has broken up and reunited several times. In an interview with CNN in 2011, Dave Navarro said he wasn't sure how many times the band broke up over the years — but now, they're more of hiatuses instead of breakups.

The band was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — but didn't get voted in

Give the band's stardom and contribution to alternative rock, you'd think they'd be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by now, right? Well, they actually aren't. According to, Jane's Addiction was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 — but they didn't make the cut.

The band did get support from their music colleagues when they were nominated, though. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave actually wrote an essay that ran in Billboard about the band's influence and why they deserved to be inducted. In it, Morello calls Jane's Addiction "the Sex Pistols of the Alternative Nation" and raves about the band's unique L.A. sound. It's also worth noting that bands Jane's Addiction paved the way for — like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Green Day — have already been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (via WMGK). 

While Jane's Addiction may not be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet, they did achieve something pretty awesome in the city that made them rockstars: They got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013. 

Jane's Addiction is often credited for breaking alternative rock into the mainstream

When people talk about alternative bands who brought the sound to the mainstream, it's often the same bands that get the credit. Nirvana. Pearl Jam. R.E.M. Radiohead. And yes, there's no doubt these incredible acts launched grunge and alternative into mainstream play with their unique sounds. However, Jane's Addiction is credited by many for laying the groundwork for those bands to get their music played. According to NME, Tom Morello, speaking at Jane's Addiction's induction into the Guitar Center RockWalk, commented on the band's influence — saying it was them, not Nirvana, who were the first alternative band to really expose the genre to the masses. The Guardian reports that Chris Cornell credited them as an influence for Soundgarden, and Flea called them "the most important rock band of the eighties." 

Spin also recognized the band's contribution to rock, ranking them No. 20 on the list of the 35 most influential artists over the last 35 years in 2020. Spin also credits them with being pioneers of the alternative movement, saying "Nothing's Shocking" and "Ritual de lo Habitual" were "era-defining albums." Not a bad legacy for a band that got its start in L.A.'s underground, huh?