Behind the Band Name: Jane’s Addiction

An early muse and housemate of the band Jane’s Addiction, Jane Bainter once lived in the Victorian house on Wilton Street in Hollywood with Perry Farrell and a commune of several other artists. She was trying to quit heroin—I’m gonna kick tomorrow, as the band’s 1988 hit “Jane Says,” recalls of her story in the lyrics.

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Jane and Her Addiction

The band, consisting of Farrell, along with guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Eric Avery, and drummer Stephen Perkins, first began forming in the mid-1980s. They began calling themselves Jane’s Addiction, in honor of Bainter, by the time they released their debut album, Nothing’s Shocking, in 1988.

[RELATED: Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell Offers Songwriting Advice He Shares With His Sons]

Sitting in the car with his then-girlfriend, Casey Niccoli, they were starting to think about band names, said singer Perry Farrell, who wrote the aforementioned track with bassist Eric Avery. “She [Nicoli] threw in Jane’s heroin experience,” said Farrell. “I thought it wasn’t vague enough. If you want to invite people in, you don’t want to put heroin on your door.”

Sergio and Spain

Bainter, whose photo was also used as art on Jane’s Addictions’ debut live album, also had an abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend named Sergio—he treats me like a ragdoll—and she also wanted to go to Spain one day. I’m going away to Spain / When I get my money saved.

“We all were total suckers for drugs,” said Bainter in a 1997 interview. Of her real-life story in song, she added, “Sergio was a drug dealer who lived nearby. He was El Salvadoran and sold drugs to send money home to his family. I was strung out, and he was using that to manipulate me. My parents divorced, and my mother and her new husband bought this house in the south of Spain. I had the opportunity to go over there, but I couldn’t because I was strung out. I had this idea that it was this big reward of mine that if I could just get sober, I could go away to Spain.”

As of a 2001 interview, the real-life Bainter quit her drug addiction, and she eventually made it to Spain.

Jane’s Addiction (1988-2023)

Following the band’s debut and 1990 follow-up, Ritual de lo Habitual, with singles “Stop!” and “Been Caught Stealing,” the band split in 1991 over a mess of addictions.

[RELATED: Premiere: Alicia Blue Plunges Deep Inside Jane’s Addiction 1987 Ballad “Jane Says”]

“It’s weird to be at the end of a cycle like that, having run the gamut of the usual rock story from beginning to end,” said Avery. “You get signed, get strung out, break up.”

Jane’s Addiction later reunited in 2001 and released their third album, Strays, in 2003, followed by The Great Escape Artist nearly a decade later.

The band has a fifth album set for release in 2024.

Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

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