Most people slip quietly into retirement. Not Jane Scott. The longtime rock journalist’s departure from The Plain Dealer in April 2002, a month before her 83rd birthday, was a milestone covered by such media outlets as Good Morning America, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, even the BBC.
It was easy to understand why. The Cleveland native nicknamed “the world’s oldest teenager” was a warm, kind, colorful quirk in an oh-so-cool youth-oriented industry once dominated by men. Her retreat from Cleveland’s music scene was a bittersweet moment for fans who’d been reading her columns, concert reviews and features since they were tweens.
Scott fell in love with rock music as a 45-year-old society writer-turned-teen page scribe covering the Beatles’ 1964 Public Hall appearance. When the group returned to play Cleveland Stadium two years later, she interviewed Paul McCartney — and went on to score audiences with everyone who was anyone in the genre.
She shopped for a blue Corvette with Jimi Hendrix, had a beer with the Doors’ Jim Morrison, sang “California Girls” with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson as he played a piano in the lounge of what is now the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. The likes of Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jovi, Bono and Bruce Springsteen — her favorite — welcomed her backstage as if she were an old friend. For many, she was one of the first journalists to interview them or critique a performance. She had an eye for talent. One of her most-quoted reviews was of a 1975 Springsteen show at the Allen Theatre: “His name is Bruce Springsteen. He will be the next superstar.”
At the same time, she developed her own fan base. She graciously chatted with readers who stopped her wherever she went — a degree of popularity that could make walking through a concert venue to her seat a long process, as I discovered during our 16-year friendship. (Her trademark blond bob and bright red glasses made her easy to spot.) When Plain Dealer editors talked in 1987 of giving her beat to a younger writer, 126 colleagues petitioned them to reconsider, and radio station WMMS-FM rallied behind her. Age certainly never kept her from doing her job. She sloshed through the mud at Woodstock ’94, ventured into mosh pits and trekked through endless parking lots and shed lawns.
After Scott died in 2011, her family commissioned former Cleveland Institute of Art president David Deming to create a sculpture of her now displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's library in Cuyahoga Community College. The likeness, accurate right down to the slightly asymmetrical smile and ticket stub pinned to the jacket, sits on a simple oak bench for two, a pen in one hand forever poised to begin scribbling on a reporter’s notebook held in the other.