Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane’s Addiction: 25 Album Facts

How the alt-metal milestone came to be—and keeps on going.

In 1988, Jane’s Addiction shocked the music world, indeed, with Nothing’s Shocking, a zeitgeist-encapsulating explosion of new sounds, new ideas, and new aesthetics in both alternative rock and heavy metal. In time, it led to nothing less than a whole new chapter in popular culture.

On August 21, 1990, Jane’s did it again via the LP Ritual de Lo Habitual. This time, though, the album’s shockwaves erupted out from just the rock scene into mainstream audiences.

Ritual’s impact ultimately transformed the record business, radio, MTV, live music, fashion, publishing, movies, and local band scenes on a global scale. Today, that still rages true.

Let’s raise a goblet of psychedelic-fortified good cheer, then, to the ongoing and continuously expanding legacy of Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane’s Addiction. What follows are 25 facts about the album to enhance the mind-expanding nature of our collective trip.

1. Ritual de Lo Habitual is the third album by the classic Jane’s Addiction lineup of Perry Farrell on vocals, Dave Navarro on guitar, Eric Avery on bass, and Stephen Perkins on drums.

2. Jane’s Addiction aka XXX (1987) and Nothing’s Shocking (1988) precede Ritual in the Jane’s discography. The band didn’t issue another album until Strays in 2003.

3. RDLH peaked at #19 on the Billboard chart. To date, the album has sold more than two million copies.

4. Jane’s Addiction rose from L.A.’s hard rock scene at the peak of hair metal hysteria. The group certainly had one platform high heel in the Sunset Strip glitter gutter, but it also had a combat boot in the Hollywood punk scene, and another bare foot plucking flowers in its own open-air hippie art-freak universe (yes, that total adds up to three—we’re dealing with glorious mutations here).

5. Perry Farrell created RLDH’s instantly iconic art. He sculpted the three clay figures, two of which feature naked genitalia, and placed them in a surreal collage to create an impression of religious folk art.

6. The cover dramatizes the lyrics to the 10-and-a-half epic, “Three Days,” about a trio of lovers who depart from reality via one another for the time period of the title. Perry sings: “Erotic Jesus lays with his Marys/loves his Marys/Bits of the puzzle/fitting each other.”

7. Anticipating censorship and chain store sales issues, Jane’s released a “clean” RLDH cover. It’s all white, emblazoned in black in with the band’s name, the album title, and the text of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

8. The back of the “clean” cover showcases the song titles and a message from Farrell: “Hitler’s syphilis-ridden dreams almost came true. How could it happen? By taking control of the media. An entire country was led by a lunatic… We must protect our First Amendment, before sick dreams become law. Nobody made fun of Hitler??!”

9. Ritual de lo Habitual is divided into two distinct sections. Side one consists of wildly funkified alt-metal and volcanic hard rock. Side two is a four-song suite that showcases Jane’s as prog-fueled adventurers. It incorporates classical instruments, world music flourishes, and Farrell furiously quoting the funk-punk anthem, “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll” by Ian Drury and the Blockheads.

10. Side two is dedicated to Perry’s friend Xiola Blue, an East Coast visual artist with whom Perry was close in the mid-’80s. Tragically, Xiola died at from a heroin overdose in 1987. She was 19.

11. “Three Days” specifically chronicles a ménage a trois between Xiola Blue, Perry Farrell, and Farrell’s girlfriend, Casey Niccoli. In 1986, Xiola flew to L.A. for her father’s funeral, and spent 72 hours having sex and getting high with Perry and Casey.

12. Guitar World originally kicked off its list of 100 Greatest Guitar Solos with Dave Navarro’s solo from “Three Days.” It’s since been replaced at #100 by Bon Jovi’s “Wanted: Dead of Alive.” Whatever.

13. The electrifying “Stop!” opens Ritual de lo Habitual and was the first single from the album. It garnered respectable radio and MTV airplay, and caught the attention of mainstream media.

14. “Stop!” opens with the voice of woman Perry Farell has referred to as “Cindianna.” She introduces the band in Spanish, saying: “Señores y señoras, nosotros tenemos más influencia con sus hijos que tu tiene
pero los queremos. Creado y regado de Los Angeles… Juana’s Adicción!”

15. In English, that translates as: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have more influence over your children than you do. But we love them. Born and raised in Los Angeles… Jane’s Addiction!“

16. “Been Caught Stealing,” RLDH’s second single, proved to be the battering ram that Jane’s Addiction used to blast down the wall separating alternative rock from popular culture.

17. Anyone who heard “Been Caught Stealing” instantly fell under the spell of its funk rhythms, booming percussion, alternately pummeling and seductively serpentine guitar, and Farrell’s berserk performance of his deadpan, literal lyrics (“I enjoy stealing/It’s just as simple as that/Well, it’s just a simple fact/When I want something/and I don’t want to pay for it/I walk right through the door/Walk right through the door/Hey all right!/If I get by, it’s mine/Mine all mine!”). Plus there are those barking dogs at the beginning. “Been Caught Stealing” broke through to the mainstream and, along with “Epic” by Faith No More, assured that the alterna-’90s started right on schedule.

18. The “Been Caught Stealing” music video proved monumental in spreading the Addiction. Directed by Casey Niccoli, the clip illustrates the song with the methods and the madness of various shoplifting freakazoids (including the band members) and go-go dancers running wild through a supermarket. Their antics are intercut with Perry Farrell in close-up wailing with a nylon stocking pulled over his entire head. That concoction grabbed MTV viewer’s attention, to say the least.

19. VH1 ranked “Been Caught Stealing” at #47 on the TV special, 100 Greatest Videos. “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith is #48. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister is #46. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson is #1.

20. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lists “Been Caught Stealing” in its elite roster of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

21. The Los Angeles Angels stadium rocks with the locomotive bassline of “Been Caught Stealing” any time one of the team’s players steals a base.

22. Ritual de lo Habitual proved so incendiary to Jane’s Addiction themselves that it tore the band apart. Just a few months after its release, Perry Farrell announced that the band would break up, but first they’d mount a farewell tour unlike anything rock had ever experienced.

23. The 1991 Lollapalooza Festival proved to be Jane’s (first) going away party. Farrell mounted and mega-successfully pulled off a mammoth rock-and-roll roadshow headlined by Jane’s Addiction. Other bands included Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nine Inch Nails, Butthole Surfers, Rollins Band, Living Colour, Fishbone, Ice-T, and Violent Femmes. Among the non-rock performers were chanting Shaolin monks and the modern primitive Jim Rose Circus Sideshow.

24. By year two of Lollapalooza, the music fans that Farrell deemed “Alternative Nation” rapidly expanded to simply be the mainstream majority of pop and rock listeners. As a result, Lollapalooza toured with a different cavalcade of performers every summer until 1997 and came to define the dominant rock culture of the decade.

25. After taking five years off, Lollapalooza returned in 2003, headlined by—who else?—the reunited Jane’s Addiction.

Mike McPadden is the author of the book "HEAVY METAL MOVIES: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos, and Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big Scream Films Ever!" (Bazillion Points, 2014).