Legendary former Plain Dealer rock music critic Jane Scott passed away early this morning at 92. She leaves behind an incredible legacy of writing that covered a variety of subjects and spanned four decades. John Soeder has a lengthy tribute online now including some audio excerpts from a 2002 interview with Scott at the time of her retirement that goes a long way towards explaining who Jane Scott was and why she was so special.
I first met Jane in the early '90s at a Rib Cook-Off performance by the reunited Foreigner. At 19 years of age, meeting someone like Jane Scott was my equivalent of meeting a rock star. I had read her writings religiously since coming to Cleveland in 1989 and as soon as I saw her, I knew exactly who she was and although I was shy, I had to say hello.
Jane asked me if I had ever seen the group and I told her very excitedly that it was my first time seeing the band and something I figured I'd never have the chance to see, since Mick Jones and Lou Gramm had bitterly split apart in the late '80s. She told me amazing stories (the first of many that I'd hear about any band or artist every time that I came in contact with her) of covering Foreigner in the '70s during the early period when they were just about to break.
The whole time that we were talking, she was making notes in a notepad and it soon became very clear that it was that notepad that held the key to the magic within her stories, always a hybrid of what was happening on stage, mixed with personal input from the people that were there to see the show. It was an important early lesson to me that sometimes those nuggets for a potential story are right there, all around you.
And as a young music fan, how could I not be impressed by the genuine love that people like Bruce Springsteen showed for someone like Jane? Every time he would come into town for a show, you could count on Jane Scott getting a song dedication or mention from the stage. But she had earned that love with many, many years of fair and respectful coverage. She was always one to take the high road. I heard a story about Elvis Costello being less than kind to her backstage at an Agora show - Jane's response on the following day didn't involve slamming Costello in print, but instead, she gave additional column space to the young opener, Eddie Money.
I didn't just run into her at shows like Foreigner - I later ran into her on the side of the stage for Black 47 at the Phantasy and at 75 years of age, there she was covering Woodstock '94.
Frankly, my common sense told me it would be foolish to go to Woodstock ‘94 in Saugerties, NY.
Hundreds of thousands of people as far as your trifocals could see and probably very few senior citizens. I might be the oldest one there. But then, I might never get another chance (Woodstock 2019 seemed a little far away).
So go I did.
I must say that the young people there didn’t stare at me, or even question what I was up to. However, one streetwise 19-year-old took me under her wing and said I should get with the 90’s. Her binoculars unscrewed and revealed two flasks of hootch.
But I was done in, along with three young things, by a dirty three-letter word: Mud. I not only slipped on a little hill the second day, but couldn’t get enough traction to stay up.
A kindly photographer retrieved my mud-covered glasses and led me through the tent cities to the press area.
I sneaked out early the third day and watched Bob Dylan on pay-per-view while nuzzled in a cozy armchair at a nearby bed and breakfast.
In spite of the flaws and failures, there was good music. Melissa Etheridge came into her own with her strong, raspy voice. The Neville Brothers and Blues Traveler stirred up the crowd, mud-coated Nine Inch Nails was electrifying. And who could forget Dylan.
Jane was a true original, a pillar of the music scene here in Cleveland and we're all very fortunate to have been able to share her musical view. A view that according to her own estimated calculations when she retired in April of 2002 included over 10,000 concerts and musical events.
Amazing stuff, Jane. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!