Cleveland Says Goodbye to Jane Scott, Music Journalist

On July 4, 2011, Cleveland, if not the whole music world, lost a very important part to it. One of the most recognizable and influential personalities in media lost her battle with time. On that very special day when all Americans celebrated their independence, we lost Jane Scott at the age of 92.

You may not have known her by name, but you most definitely had to have run into her once in a while if you took in concerts around Cleveland on a regular basis. No matter how old you are, you had to have crossed paths with Plain Dealer Rock Journalist Jane Scott at any of the concert venues around town while going to concerts of famous bands that have sold millions of albums or even bands that were just getting started.

“It was always about the artist and the music. It was never, ever about Jane,” said Terry Stewart of The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame to begin the August 28th Jane Scott Memorial. It was Terry Stewart who was the emcee for the Sunday Night event at The Rock Hall to remember the life and times of Jane Scott, who was such a large part of the city of Cleveland and the rock world as a whole. Hundreds of people showed up for the event to pay their respects to Jane.

Once Valarie McCall from the Office of Mayor Frank Jackson delivered the proclamation from Mayor Jackson, the large number of guest speakers began giving their tributes to one of Cleveland’s best-loved personalities, Jane Scott. It was Congressman Dennis Kucinich who spoke first about his former Plain Dealer co-worker to begin the night of memories: “The first thing to remember about her was her smile,” Dennis offered.

But it was a personal remembrance from the congressman that really touched on the memory of the writer the world had only begun knowing when Kucinich joined The Plain Dealer behind the scenes and got the first real smile from the audience:
“She had the ability to go to rock concerts for free,” the congressman
remembered. “And that really impressed me.”

In fact, it was one concert in particular that put Jane Scott on the map: Scott ended up taking an assignment to report on The Beatles’ first visit to Cleveland. When the resulting article about the band’s concert at Cleveland’s Public Hall hit the streets, Cleveland knew about this new sensation called The Beatles…..and they knew the name Jane Scott. Soon after, so did the whole world.

It was another Cleveland politician, Councilman Jay Westbrook, who shared the idea that everyone was feeling at the time: “We want to join with The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame to honor Jane Scott,” Westbrook said. “For decades, decades, and decades, Jane Scott will live on as Rock And Roll lives on.”

It was at this point that The Jane Scott Memorial took a few minutes to allow for the blessing of the gathering. It was a friend of Jane Scott, Minister Mark Rollenhagen, who delivered these words as he stood in front of those gathered to pay tribute to Scott after giving the blessing: “If there was Rock And Roll in Cleveland, there was a good chance Jane Scott would show up.”

While a lot of good things were said of Jane Scott at the Memorial, one man spoke the loudest without even saying a word. It was John Soeder, a fellow reporter of Scott’s from The Plain Dealer, who relayed an idea many were thinking. Soeder walked up to the podium and removed one shirt to expose another. When he turned to the crowd, the two-word message on his shirt had everyone in The Rock Hall exploding in applause. That simple message read:

INDUCT JANE

Once the applause had died down, John Soeder began his part of the Memorial Tributes. In describing the situation at The Plain Dealer when unqualified music personnel were sent to cover an early rock concert, Soeder had this to say about the decision to remove those reporters in favor of Scott: “Clearly, a fresh set of eyes and a fresh set of ears were needed to cover the rock scene here in Cleveland.” And with that decision, Jane Scott assumed the newly created position there at The Plain Dealer of Rock Journalist. And so, at that point in history, Rock Journalism began right here in the city of Cleveland with one Jane Scott.

After a lengthy but poignant speech about his former fellow employee, John Soeder finished his time on the podium with these powerful last words: “Her name was Jane Scott. She was a star, too. And tonight, in Rock and Roll Heaven, no star shines brighter.”

As Jane Scott was a Rock Journalist, it was expected that some of the very artists that Scott had written about would take part in the Memorial. Two Clevelanders Scott wrote about over the years, Cleveland’s own Michael Stanley and Wally Bryson of The Raspberries, added their thoughts to the night.

About Jane, Wally Bryson had this to say: “No band felt like a band until Jane Scott interviewed you.”

And while not able to be in attendance, Michael Stanley had these words to say about Scott: “When all was said and done, Jane was the best of us all.”

The Scott Family knew how much Jane meant to Cleveland, the rock community and the world of music. It was with the help and support of The Scott Family that The Jane Scott Memorial was put together and ultimately created for this special night of memories. Jane’s nephew, Dave Scott, came to the podium and spoke of his aunt and some of the memories he and the rest of The Scott Family held of their beloved relative. Dave Scott’s tribute to his aunt was one of the most touching and emotional points of the night.

Jane Scott was many things to many people: Aunt, Sister, Co-worker, Writer, Friend…….But one thing that she was that many people may not know about was that Scott had spent time as a U.S. Navy Lieutenant Cryptographer during World War II. Her career in journalism began after the war was over. Because Scott served in the U.S. Armed forces, the Memorial featured a Military Honor Guard that presented The Scott Family with an American Flag in honor of Scott.

Hank LoConti, owner of The Cleveland Agora, was one person who knew Jane Scott on a professional level while not actually working directly with her. Hank had this to say about Scott’s undying passion to promote the rock concerts in town: “We were always in the newspaper every week. We never missed a week.”

On a more personal side of Jane the Reporter, Hank had this to say about Jane’s willingness to do anything to get a quote, even if it meant doing something that some would have called insane for a woman of her age: “That was Jane. Right into the mosh pit.”

Rock Journalist Jane Scott continued working in the industry until she was into her eighties. Cleveland radio personality John Gorman had this to say about that longevity: “Jane was proof that a combination of an active mind and rock and roll will keep you young forever.”

Speaking to that longevity of Scott’s career, Anastasia Pantsios, a former
co-worker of Scott, spoke about the ever-increasing time period that elapsed as she anticipated the chance to become Scott’s predecessor: “I was asked ‘When are you going to take over for Jane?’ Well, it very rapidly became clear to me that no one was going to take over for Jane.”

Anastasia added this pearl of wisdom that every music reporter (myself
included) must keep in mind: “All of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jane.”

Another fellow reporter of Jane’s at The Plain Dealer, Janet Macoska, touched on Jane Scott’s undying passion for her job: “You’d get a call at 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock (at night). It was Jane doing some fact checking. And I’d think, ‘That’s the journalist doing her job.’”

During the evening’s event, a very personal part of Jane Scott was revealed to the audience; many of us seeing it for the first time: Her purse.

Inside Jane Scott’s purse were her items of survival while attending a concert. Among these items were: two pads for taking notes, pencils, tissues (in case the venue’s facilities had run out), and a peanut butter sandwich for when she needed nourishment. Always Be Prepared!

Cindy Barber, co-owner of The Beachland Ballroom, gave the audience her impression of Scott and her ability to get people to get out and attend
concerts: “She was like the newspaper equivalent of Facebook,” Barber said. “She was there at every show,” she added, noting that Scott not only promoted shows, she also attended them.

It was Scott’s peanut butter sandwich that Barber brought back into the
conversation when she focused on the qualities of Scott that she would like to see people emulate. Barber told the audience to get out and see a show: “Tell everyone to put a peanut butter sandwich in their pocket and go!”

While the three-plus hours that made up The Jane Scott Memorial featured a whole bunch of people getting up to pay tribute to Jane Scott, there were many people who were unable to attend for one reason or another. For those people who could, some recorded their messages to have their words be a part of the celebration. Some of the people who took part in the Video Tribute included: Ann and Nancy Wilson, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Carmen, Alice Cooper, as well as many others.

Jane Scott’s reach as a Rock Journalist went far beyond the city limits of
Cleveland. So much so, that people know her name all over the United States. But Cleveland is where she got her start as the very first Rock Journalist and this is where she called home until she was called up to Rock And Roll Heaven on July 4th, 2011.

There will never be another Jane Scott. So to pay tribute to this talented
writer and all-around wonderful person, The Jane Scott Memorial at The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame on August 28, 2011 was the right way to say goodbye. The last ten seconds of the Video Tribute said it all:

                                    “We Miss You Jane. Keep On Rockin’!”

Update:
July 5, 2012. One year after her death, the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum immortalized Jane Scott.
A statue of the journalist created by David Deming was unveiled during a midday ceremony in the lower lobby of the museum. The Deming statue brings out Scott's personality. Deming's sculpture sits atop a bench to greet visitors to the Rock Hall's lower lobby. This statue gives permanent recognition to a woman who had such a lasting affect on both music and journalism because of her influence on both industries. The Jane Scott statue can now be seen in the lower lobby of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.