Way Back Wednesday: Jane's Addiction

A weekly series spotlighting artists from 'way back' that came up pre-'00s.

The first time I really heard Jane's Addiction, I was tripping balls in the backseat of a car so filled with garbage that I was perched on a stack of junk, as was my friend who sat next to me, and because his stack of junk was taller than mine, I spent the entire ride looking up and over my left shoulder to talk to him, and he spent the entire ride with his head cocked down and to the right to listen and respond, like some sort of giant human bird. When "Stop" came on, the driver turned it all the way up and hit the gas, until pretty soon we were doing 60 down Nebraska Avenue, while he and his girlfriend screamed along in the front seat and punched the air at the song's "Stop" refrain.

I think about that car ride every time I hear that song, and have been a fan ever since. This week's WBW — where we look at artists from 'way back' that came up pre-'00s — is devoted to that particular LA-spawned group. 

Background: Founded in LA by Farrell and basssist Eric Avery after the disintegration of Farrell's previous outfit, Psi Com, Jane's Addiction was among the wave of bands that emerged from the late '80s/early '90s alternative rock movement, plying a funkier sound with more metallic and psychedelic influences than their grungy brethren, and achieving both media acclaim, some radio airplay and an ever-expanding fanbase with their first few albums. The band's initial farewell tour, in 1991, launched the first Lollapalooza, now a perennial alt rock festival held in Chicago every summer, and still overseen by Farrell. Jane's reunited briefly in 1997, with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers replacing Avery on bass, his presence likely prompted by guitarist Dave Navarro's membership in the Peppers at the time. A second reunion happened in 2001, with Martyn LeNoble — and later Chris Chaney — occupying the low end role. In 2003, the band released its third studio album, Strays, before dissolving again the following year. The original lineup picked it back up again in 2008, embarked on a world tour, but Avery subsequently left the band, again, in 2010 as Jane's began work on new material. A fourth studio album, The Great Escape Artist, dropped in 2011, with Chaney returning to the fold for its recording and subsequent tour. The band is still together, if inactive, and features Farrell, Chaney, Navarro and longtime drummer Stephen Perkins.

Notable albums: Jane's Addiction put out two rather noteworthy studio albums — full-length debut Nothing's Shocking (1988) and sophomore follow-up Ritual de lo Habitual (1990). Both had controversial album covers; the former featuring Ferrell's own life-size sculpture of female conjoined twins sitting on a rocking chair, nude, with heads on fire, while the latter, also by Farrell, had three naked clay figures engaged in a threesome — inspired by the track "Three Days" — and had its own less-risque "alternate" cover, the band name, album name, and the text of the First Amendment ("freedom of speech") printed on its cover. Nothing's Shocking produced a few singles, "Jane Says" (the only charter) and "Mountain Song," and though it's currently certified platinum, the album only sold around 250,000 copies in its first year. Ritual de lo Habitual launched their super-stardom with “Been Caught Stealing” and "Stop," both No. 1 Modern Rock Tracks charters.

"Mountain Song"

“Jane Says”

“Been Caught Stealing”  


What's your favorite Jane's Addiction track? Do you remember the first time you heard em? Tell us in the comments below...

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