Despite the allotted 400 person limit that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame imposed for the Jane Scott memorial service, held Sunday, August 28, 2011, the actual reported attendance was over the anticipated number. The roar of applause and laughter could be heard time and time again, as a large crowd of people gathered to celebrate Scott’s incredible legacy as the most iconic rock journalist that Cleveland has ever known.
Easel after easel lined the long bannister railing that runs along the foyer of the Rock Hall, each one holding reprints of articles that Scott had written. The line of people who waited to pay homage to Scott’s life ran almost the length of the Rock Hall, and two Naval officers stood in full uniform by the door, as they waited to present the flag to Scott’s family. Attendees filled all of the provided chairs on the main floor, and spilled over into standing room only along the side and back of the room, as well as occupying a remote viewing area downstairs, and a balcony that overlooked the event. The entire evening, people could be seen riding the escalators up and down to the upper floors, with cameras at the ready to catch a picture of the service.
The overall mood at the memorial service was joyously celebratory, as guest speakers lined up to fondly remember the woman who touched so many lives over her long and prolific career as a rock writer for the Plain Dealer newspaper. Despite the fact that Jane’s close friend and fellow rock journalist, Peanuts, could not be in attendance, many mentions were made by speakers about their close friendship. A scheduled performance by Michael Stanley was cancelled, as well, due to a family emergency, but the Cleveland band “Beaucoup”, performed a three song set following eulogies by Anastasia Pantsios, Cindy Barber, John Gorman, Jules and Michael Belkin, John Soder, and many more.
The audience sat spellbound, as they were treated to a detailed description of the mysterious contents of her legendary purse, aka her “survival kit”, “One day, I asked Jane what she had in that purse of hers. She replied, ‘Tissue. The restrooms ALWAYS run out of toilet paper halfway through a concert. Four pens- people always borrow them, but never give them back! A camera. Two notebooks- one for interviews, the other for crowd observations. A peanut butter sandwich. You can’t always get food at a concert, and peanut butter doesn’t go bad very easily. A good strong safety pin to pin my passes to my blouse- none of those new fangled lanyards for me’“.
From the MANY mentions of her tendency to ask people which high school they went to, her hairstylist’s recollections of Scott’s trademark pageboy haircut, “Jane was a rollerset girl, just so you know“, to the wonderful quote by Cindy Barber, owner of the Beachland Ballroom, “Jane Scott validated our right to stand at the altar of rock and roll“, it was abundantly clear that Scott had touched the lives and hearts of absolutely every person in attendance, in her own unique fashion.
Jane Scott was one of a kind. She was a class act in every which way, casting her trademark flair around her like a fishing pole- and she reeled ’em in like fish in a barrel. Her love of music, people, and journalism broke through peoples’ stereotypes of what a rock journalist “should be”- she was substantially older than most rock writers, which did not stop her from entering the ‘mosh pit’ at a Smashing Pumpkins concert, just as bold as you please- in her 70’s, or walking right past hulking bouncers guarding backstage areas with little more than a baleful look and a general admission ticket pinned to her chest! A video of Scott was shown, directly after a hysterically funny, and absolutely spot on imitation of her distinctive voice, where she recalls walking backstage at a Beatle’s concert, “I was back there, and they wouldn’t let Brian Epstein back there! He was The Beatles’ manager, you know“.
While Scott did not like every single act she came across, she was known for her uncanny ability to find something positive to write about every act she wrote about, even if it was a bit of a stretch. If she was unable to find anything good to say about an act, she simply would not write about them- except, apparently, the Beastie Boys, who had “absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever”.
Jane Scott lived to be 92 years old, and attended over 10,000 concerts over the course of her incredible career. She successfully fought attempts to oust her from her position as a rock writer due to her age, and was the first female journalist to be accepted into the ‘boys club’ of rock journalism. She was featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, as well as several other national publications, and was a guest on “VH-1”, and “Good Morning, America”. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Cleveland location is largely accredited to her influence as a rock journalist for the Plain Dealer, and many say that much of the legacy of Cleveland’s rich musical history would be lost forever, were it not for her zeal for writing about local Cleveland artists and acts, with the same fervor that she displayed when writing about national and internationally touring acts.
On behalf of the Cleveland music community, thank you, Jane Scott. Your memory lives on in every music loving person in Cleveland, and beyond. From one writer to another, you are the embodiment of what every writer aspires to be.
In memory of Jane Marie Scott, May 3, 1919- July 4, 2011