Legendary Cleveland Rock Critic Jane Scott Passes Away
Retired Cleveland rock critic Jane Scott passed away over the weekend at 92 years of age. Scott made enormous impact, both locally and nationally, as one of the first female writers covering rock music. Her unique style of reporting garnered many fans, both among readers and famous musicians such as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, all of whom frequently made time for Jane when they visited Cleveland.
Scott spent five decades at the Plain Dealer, and covered the developing genre of rock and roll music for nearly 40 of those years. Starting three days after Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball in March of 1952, Scott was in attendance when the Beatles played their first Cleveland show in 1964 at Public Hall.
Two years later, Jane got an interview with Paul McCartney prior to the Beatles headlining appearance at the much larger Municipal Stadium in 1966. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, McCartney became an “old pal,” as did Springsteen and countless others. The article also features a nice selection of articles from across Scott's career.
Former WMMS program director Tony Tilford remembers a backstage experience at a Stones concert where he witnessed Keith Richards and Mick Jagger greeting Scott “as if she were family.”
She was featured in People Magazine in 1987 at a time when the Plain Dealer was attempting to replace her. The resulting public outcry, combined with additional features on MTV News and in the Wall Street Journal, forced the newspaper to go back on their plans, and Scott remained at the paper until her proper retirement in 2002.
Some of the best feedback on Scott came from the same subjects that she was covering. Lou Reed said of Scott, “I must confess -- I love Jane Scott. When I was in the Velvet Underground in the '60s, Jane was one of the only people I can remember who was nice to us. . . . a very smart, guileless lady who loved music and musicians and had unbiased attitudes toward the evolving culture."
From that first Beatles show, to attending and covering Woodstock ’94 at the age of 75, Scott leaves an incredible legacy that includes numerous highlights. She shared a beer with Jim Morrison before a Doors show, went along with Jimi Hendrix during his trip to purchase a Corvette from an area dealership and sang ‘California Girls’ with Brian Wilson to an audience of none during an interview at a Cleveland hotel.
Her music coverage helped to colorize the concert experience during a time when there was no internet and no cell phones. Thanks to her ability to blend personal interactions among the crowd with the sights and sounds happening on stage, Scott brought the feeling of really being in the seats home to those who couldn’t be there at the show.
James Henke, the chief curator for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame summarizes the inimitable spirit and character of Jane Scott by saying “she was totally open-minded about the bands and artists she was covering. She held no biases. It didn't matter if it was a punk band, a heavy-metal band or a mainstream pop artist; Jane treated them all the same. And she loved covering the music. Rock and roll was her life. And she continued to write about it into her seventies and eighties. As she liked to say, she was "the world's oldest teenager."
Watch A 1990 Interview With Jane Scott