Friday, August 24, 2012

Jane Scott

Everything I knew about rock music I learned from this woman, who looks like the world's best grandmother.  Hard to believe, but Jane Scott was the definitive rock music critic of the Midwest.

I met Ms. Scott back in the 70's when I was working at an AOR*-formatted radio station, but I'd been reading her column since I was 13.  The same year we met I had interviewed Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Denny Laine of Paul McCartney's band, Wings, and jazz legend Larry Coryell, but she was the one of whom I was in awe.  Jane Scott was a great lady and a great reporter, and very patient with what I'm sure were some tedious interview questions from a 20-year-old.

What made her great was an instinct that cannot be learned, as illustrated in this quotation from her obit: "She found her lifework on Sept. 15, 1964, the day four lads from Liverpool came to Cleveland. No one at the paper was interested in covering the Beatles, and Ms. Scott volunteered."  See what I mean?  She knew something special was about to happen and, being a good reporter, she wanted to be there to experience it.

The evening I met Ms. Scott, we were in attendance at a concert in a 200-seat venue in Cleveland's Playhouse Square.  “He looked like a cross between a dockhand and a pirate,” she wrote in The Plain Dealer in 1975, reviewing the young musician we had come to see. “He stood on the darkened Allen Theater stage last night in a black greaser jacket, blue jeans, a gray wool cap pulled over an eye and a gold earring in his left ear. ... His name is Bruce Springsteen. He will be the next superstar.” She made this prediction at the age of 56, and was the first to do so.

When she died last year, her obituary ran in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Times, and, of course, the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Even before her death, she had become legend.

* AOR = Album-oriented Rock