Date: October 1st, 2002
Years past the age many would consider time to retire from any job, especially a job that is traditionally filled by the young and hip, Jane Scott was grooving with audience members young enough to be her grandkids as rock critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Scott retired this year just shy of her 83rd birthday, an icon who has spent nearly 40 years immersed in an industry defined by its appeal to the young and notorious for here-today-gone-tomorrow personalities.
Even when she began her career as a rock writer, covering the Beatles' performance in Cleveland in 1964, she was in her 40s-already what some of her target audience might have considered "over the hill." That is, if they hadn't read her column.
The Teen Scene
Scott's ability to connect with younger people became clear when she took a segment of the newspaper geared toward teenagers and turned it into a widely read rock review.
"I had to gradually do it," she said. "I would write one review and then tell people how many letters I got from it. I knew the kids would rather read about rock music than about the Aquateens and how you should back your tennis team."
Scott majored in English and drama at the University of Michigan, and held several writing jobs before her repeated attempts to go to work at the Plain Dealer finally paid off. She was hired as a society writer and eventually became the paper's teen editor. It was in this capacity that she covered the Beatles concert and realized she had stumbled onto something big.
A Star Among Stars
Known for quirky questions and a tenacious drive to be first and to get the interview, she spent her career nearly as well-known as many of the people she covered. On a web site tribute to Scott and her career that was developed when she retired, Joe Walsh of the Eagles quips, "I don't care what you say; Jane will always be 50 to me."
While she realized her situation was unusual, Scott never considered herself too old for the job.
"I don't feel there's any age," she said. "If you love what you're doing, you don't have to think about your age."
And Scott clearly loved what she was doing. As a reviewer, she had a knack for finding the good in any music-even any that did not suit her own musical taste.
"I would compare them to others of their own like," she said. "I didn't like heavy metal as much as some other kinds of music, but I knew that some were doing heavy metal better than others."
Stories? Oh, I've got stories!
She plans to write a book, which is probably a good idea considering the number of stories she has. Give her the name of a rock star; she'll tell you a story. Bob Dylan? As she exited his dressing room after an interview, he took her face in his hands and kissed both cheeks. "I think he was feeling mellow," she said.
Paul McCartney was "full of fun," but John Lennon? Kind of serious. He told her early in the Beatles' career: "It's fading already. It won't last forever."
The one person Scott never got to interview was Elvis Presley. The closest she ever came to meeting him was the time she made it all the way to his dressing room and knocked on the door, only to be greeted by a man who filled the doorway. "He was seven feet tall and four feet wide," she said. "He crossed his arms and said 'Go.' By golly I went."