Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jane Scott Cleveland Rock Critic 92

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland today because of radio dj Freed, who coined the terim "rock & roll" while talking with Bill Haley, whose song "Rock Around the Clock" was the first rock & roll song to top #1 on the pop charts. In the summer of 1955 when the song hit No. 1, as it was featured in the teen rebel movie The Blackboard Jungle, Haley & the Comets were playing regularly at the Hofbrau nightclub in Wildwood, NJ, one of a dozen clubs that featured rock & roll at the time.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should be in Wildwood, or at the Jersey Shore, where the real rock & roll was born and bred, and not in Cleveland, where the acts only put in for concerts and then moved on.

Like rock ‘n’ roll, Jane Scott is here to stay

By Jane Scott

A few years back, I actually found a friend my age to attend a rock concert with me.

That’s about as easy as booking a babysitter on New Year’s Eve. Especially if the word is out that you are the oldest rock reviewer on a metropolitan daily.

In this case, my friend overheard mentions of Deep Purple and asked to go. But just to be sure, I called before I picked her up.

"I’m so excited!" she said. "That’s the song that Bob and I fell in love to at his Beta Theta Pi fraternity dance, back in ‘38". Then she burst into song -- "When the deep purple falls, over sleepy garden walls..."

I hated to break the spell -- but today’s Deep Purple is a loud, non-sleepy heavy metal group.

Her grandson went instead.

That’s just one of the little problems you face if you find yourself a little out of synch with your contemporaries. My generation grew up when it was Glenn Miller instead of Metallica, Tommy Dorsey’s "Marie" instead of the "Macarena," and "Dancing in the Dark" was a No. 1 by Artie Shaw, not Bruce Springsteen.

But I’ve found there are wonderful compensations. I love a lot of the rock today. And I have actually been invited to give a talk at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Wednesday night (January 29th, 1997), the hall I hoped would happen for 10 years.

After almost 35 years of covering rock, there’s a lot I could talk about. But there are also a few tidbits I don’t think I'll dwell on in my rock remarks next week:

• The fact that I can’t carry a tune. (All right, you remember that saying: "Those who can, do;, those who can’t, review.") Besides, the only time I ever sang with a star was with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys during an interview in the old Stouffer’s Tower City Plaza Hotel lobby six years ago. He spied a grand piano over in a corner and made a beeline for it. I asked him to play his favorite song. His eyes lit up as he played "California Girls." He nodded at me, and we sang together. Darn, the lobby was practically empty even before I sang.

• My first talk. It was at Madonna Hall, a residence for elderly women on the East Side. I was just back from three days in Ireland and was all hopped up with little stories and with pictures of the Blarney Stone. It was my debut for our Plain Dealer Speakers’ Bureau. Just by chance I asked if anyone had been to Ireland. Well, yes. More than half had been born there.

• The fact that I’m going to my 60th Lakewood High School reunion in June. Not that I’m not proud of it, but is it fair to my classmates? The pretty ones who had pitchfork eyelashes and hair like spun sunset back in 1937? The ones who just may have lopped a few years off their ages? They would be "outed." Catty people would dismiss them with "Oh, she was in Jane Scott’s class!"

• The fact that I have never interviewed Elvis Presley. His manager, Col. Tom Parker, saw to that. I even climbed up the back stairs to the King’s top suite in the Hotel Statler, but was turned away. I’ve almost given up.`

• The fact that I play unexpected songs when I’m at home alone. My favorites are "Black Water"(Doobie Brothers), "On the Road Again"(Canned Heat), "Sing, Sing, Sing"(Benny Goodman), "Darkness on the Edge of Town"(Bruce Springsteen), and "Amazing Grace" and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" sung by Mahalia Jackson.

Probably you have never heard of the first record I ever bought -- Jimmy Rushing singing the R&B "Sent for You Yesterday (And Here You Come Today)." A real boogie beat . I played it over and over on my little windup Victrola.

But don’t be too critical. I just learned that Joe Walsh of the Eagles puts on bagpipe records at home. And singer Sean Carlin of Dink, that raucous grungy funky group from Kent, is into surf music.

Yes, my contemporaries often ask what I see in rock ‘n’ roll, why do I still go to concerts. ("Do you really like that stuff?" -- the answer is yes, most of it.)

But I have never dropped out of the music scene. Those who did weren’t at Blossom the night that the Doobie Brothers played "Black Water."

We were all different ages. We didn’t know each other. But we were standing together and singing together, and there was a love and a harmony that lifted our hearts. Our problems or pains didn’t exist. For that brief but wonderful time, we were one.

That kind of oneness sometimes extends to shows I go to today.

At many of them, there comes a magic moment where the unity resurfaces. It’s at those times that I don’t even mind when kids call me "Mom"or even "Grandma."

reprinted from The Plain Dealer, January 24, 1997


Jane Scott Is Dead at 92; Veteran Rock Music Critic


Published: July 6, 2011

It was the singular combination of Kleenex, peanut butter, a shower cap and earplugs that let Jane Scott thrive in her chosen field for nearly 40 years.

Ms. Scott, who long before her retirement in 2002 was widely described as the world’s oldest rock critic, never went to a concert without these essentials. Peanut butter gave her strength for a long night ahead. The shower cap, for rain-swept outdoor events, let her keep her preternaturally blond pageboy dry.

The Kleenex was for the inevitable. (“One time, I was at a Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Grateful Dead concert — phew, wasn’t that a strange combination? — and they ran out of lavatory paper,” she once told The Independent of London.) The earplugs came out when things, even by her accommodating standards, grew a wee bit too loud.

In four happy decades as a rock writer for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ms. Scott, who died on Monday at 92, braved mud and mosh pits, foul weather and fouler language, “a drop of bleached blond and pink polyester in a roiling sea of blue denim and black leather,” as The Philadelphia Inquirer once described her.

Her death, in Lakewood, Ohio, was of complications of Alzheimer’s disease, her lawyer, William Fulton, said. No immediate family members survive.

Ms. Scott, who took up her beat in 1964 at 45 and retired nine years ago at nearly 83, was often called the world’s oldest teenager, a description she hastened to correct. “Second-oldest,” she would say. “After Dick Clark.”

At a time when newspapers were famously inhospitable to women, Ms. Scott made her career by tackling a beat that few writers of either sex wanted — a beat that barely existed when she began writing about rock ’n’ roll in the mid-1960s.

Over the years, she interviewed many of the biggest names in pop music, including Paul McCartney (“such a nice boy,” she said afterward); Mick Jagger (“sweet and funny”); and Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix (“I loved them both”).

Ms. Scott adored much of the music she heard, and was overwhelmingly positive about it in print. This incurred criticism from some journalists but won the devotion of readers and many musicians.

She was also an astute handicapper. “He looked like a cross between a dockhand and a pirate,” she wrote in The Plain Dealer in 1975, reviewing a young musician. “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.”

In Cleveland, Ms. Scott could scarcely walk down the street without fans stopping to take her picture. But she was known far beyond the city, profiled in print, on radio and on television throughout the country and abroad.

This renown was a far cry from the days when she had to carry a homemade placard reading “Yes, I’m a reporter.” In the netherworld of rock-star dressing rooms, it was assumed that anyone as respectable-looking as she must be an undercover narcotics agent.

Jane Marie Scott was born in Cleveland on May 3, 1919. The first record she bought was Jimmy Rushing singing “Sent for You Yesterday,” which she played on her hand-cranked Victrola. (A Victrola is something like an iPod, only larger.)

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ms. Scott was a Navy cryptographer during World War II.

In 1952, she joined The Plain Dealer and was assigned, typically for the time, to the society pages.

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.

That night, amid a sea of screams, Ms. Scott was transformed. “I realized this was a phenomenon,” she told The Plain Dealer in 2002. “The whole world changed.”

Ms. Scott was fazed by little she encountered in her new world, though the language sometimes gave her a turn. Among the worst offenders were the Beastie Boys, who favored a particular epithet in telephone conversations with her. “I think when you’re talking to someone old enough to be your mother,” she told The Washington Post in 2002, “you don’t have to use that on the phone, do you?”

But what troubled Ms. Scott far more was her inability to share her passion with her peers.

“I finally convinced a friend to come see Deep Purple with me,” she told The Post in the same interview. “I called her before the show to confirm, and she said, ‘Oh, Jane, I can still remember dancing with Ben at Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and we danced, “When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls.” ’ ”

“I thought: ‘Oh dear. I hate to tell you ...’ ” Ms. Scott continued. “I ended up taking her grandson.”

Remembering Jane Scott, 92, the World's Oldest Teenager and Cleveland's First Rock 'n' Roll Reporter

The Lakewood resident, who covered rock music for The Plain Dealer, died July 4.
By Alana Baranick

Jane Scott, a longtime Lakewood resident, died this morning at age 92, according to an obituary published in The Plain Dealer.

She had already passed her 71st birthday in 1990, when I first met her at a wedding reception backstage at the Cleveland Agora before a Rattconcert.

The bride and groom, who had met and fallen in love at a previous Ratt concert, exchanged vows on stage with the glam-metal band’s drum set as a backdrop and an ordained minister presiding.

Then the newlyweds, a few invited guests and the media – Jane with the Plain Dealer and I with theElyria Chronicle-Telegram – were whisked backstage by the Agora's marketing manager, Johan, a.k.a. Linas Johansonas, for a mini-reception with members of Ratt.

I had seen Jane at plenty of rock shows before that, of course. She looked out of place in clothes befitting her age – like a wool coat with fur collar - and her professionalism as a reporter. She always carried an oversized bag that brought to mind the term “bag lady.” It didn’t occur to me back then that she was being true to herself and her own sense of style.

About a year after the Ratt wedding, I saw Jane at a relatively small section of the I-X Center, where pop singer Richard Marx held a promotional event. The teen idol noticed Jane in the crowd, called out her name and made a fuss over her.

Jane put such recognition from rock stars into perspective for me: These people are not my friends. They are using me to get publicity, just as I am using them to get a story.

Time proved that the rock stars still expressed their love for her, even when she could no longer give them publicity.

In her later years, after retirement, rock stars as huge as Bruce Springsteen continued to gush when Jane showed up at their shows.

I became aware of some of Jane’s other quirks after I started working at the Plain Dealer in 1992. She liked to say that she bowled under an assumed name. She always carried a peanut butter sandwich – often flattened by other contents of her huge bag. She often dozed off while working on a story.

I remember the first time I found her sleeping in the news research room (a.k.a. library), seated in front of a computer monitor, where she had been looking for stories from the electronic archives. Her fingers were still in a typing position on the keyboard. She had leaned over so that her nose and forehead rested on the keyboard.

The librarian told me not to worry. Jane was just taking an impromptu nap.

When I started covering Christian music for the paper, Jane became intrigued with the subject and accompanied me to a couple of concerts.

She got out her pen and reporter’s notebook and furiously scribbled notes during a Christian rock concert featuring DCTalk. While one of the opening acts played a rousing number, Jane and her pen suddenly became still. She had fallen asleep.

A couple of songs later, she resumed taking notes without realizing she had missed a beat or 20.

Security personnel, who protect the performers from their fans during performances, greeted Jane like she was a rock star. At her request, they took us backstage or onto tour buses - without the mandatory all-access passes – to meet the artists.

She retired in 2002, a few weeks before her 83rd birthday. A year or two later, I took her to a concert at Beachland Ballroom. The headliner was an aging Irish punk band, whose name I don’t recall. My son’s band, Machine Go Boom, was the opening act. Sandwiched between the two was Cobra Verde, fronted by the Plain Dealer’s John Petkovic.

Jane was the image of a little old lady when I picked her up for the show. She was slightly bent over and walked at tortoise speed.

That all changed at the Ballroom.

Jane’s posture improved dramatically when the doorkeeper immediately recognized her and became visibly excited. She held court with fans – her fans, not fans of any of the bands – in the adjacent Beachland Tavern, while I kept watch over her coat and famous bag in the ballroom.

When the headliner took the stage, Jane danced her way to join the mosh pit and get a closer look at the Irishmen.

Jane Scott returned home that evening aglow and holding fast to her title as the world’s oldest teenager.

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