A gaggle of family, old friends and ex-colleagues gathered at the Agora’s Town Fryer restaurant Saturday to celebrate the 90th birthday of rock-journalism icon Jane Scott, once dubbed “the world’s oldest teenager.”
Scott, who worked at The Plain Dealer for 50 years prior to her 2002 retirement, started out as most women reporters did in the 50s, writing society and club news. But when the Beatles broke out in 1964, she inherited the rock-music beat by default: No one else took the burgeoning rock 'n' roll scene seriously.
Scott was soon known for writing both the senior-citizens news and the teen column, reporting avidly on what was going on in local high schools, in an era when every other high-school boy in America was forming a band.
Very few daily newspapers reported seriously on rock music in the '60s. It was considered a fad and usually written about, if at all, with condescension by in-house curmudgeon Dick Feagler types, who often found a way to compare the Rolling Stones unfavorably to polka bands.
Not so at the PD, where Scott’s diligent coverage took this new kids’ music seriously. That was a hallmark throughout her career: She was never supercilious or dismissive, always digging to get the “human-interest” angle that could make the music come alive. She talked to everyone, from fan to superstar, to create a well-rounded picture of what was going on. Although some felt she went too far out of her way to be nice, she saw through hype and often wrote with a wink.
She was also know for her endearing quirks: her red glasses (which she still wears), the big straw hats she wore to concerts, the large purses that contained provisions like peanut-butter sandwiches and always including in her stories where a local musician or fan went to high school.
Among the local music scenesters who paid tribute to Jane at her 90th birthday were Terry Stewart and Jim Henke from the Rock Hall, Agora owner Henry LoConti, Live Nation senior vice president Barry Gabel, photographer Janet Macoska, music distributor John Awarski, record executive Steve Popovich and several of Scott’s former Plain Dealer colleagues, including the paper’s current rock music writer John Soeder.
The party was also a family reunion for the Scotts: all five of Jane’s nieces and nephews, their spouses and some of their children came in from around the country for the occasion.
Former WJCU DJ Mary Cipriani put together a birthday video honoring Scott, which you can see here. —Anastasia Pantsios