The rock critic with the bus pass and ear plugs

It is 1.20am at the Atomic Cafe, and a mega-decibel rock band called Iodine is in full roar. A few dozen fans line the black-painted walls, their heads thrashing with the music. But sitting on the floor right up front, just feet from the blast of the amplifiers, is a small old lady. Incredibly, she has fallen asleep.

With smudgy pink lipstick, heavy stockings and two over-stuffed bags by her side, the woman gives a good impression of a tramp. On stage, however, they know exactly who she is, and their concerned glances in her direction betray their dismay. Jane Scott is in the house and she has nodded off on them.

But then it has been an extremely long day. We are at the famously edgy South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, where scores of new artists vie every year for attention from the industry. Jane is here because, as rock critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, she is always at important music events around the United States. In fact, at 77 years old, she has been covering them for three decades.

Jane admits she is unique. "I must be the only rock writer who is going to their 60th high school reunion this summer," she exclaims with her cartoon-character laugh. "And I know I'm the only one with both a backstage pass and a golden years bus pass in my bag." Hollywood is pondering a television comedy series about her - Lily Tomlin has been approached to play the part of revered but slightly dotty critic - and there is an exhibit about her work at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, itself in Cleveland.

Jane revels in telling her story. At school, she used to hide copies of Hit Parader between the pages of her Latin exercise books. After serving in the navy in the war, she was hired by the Dealer where she rose slowly through the ranks, eventually becoming editor of its teen section. In the early 1960s, she was assigned full time to music. "My first big interview was with Lennon, can you believe that?" she giggles.

That was in 1966, when the Beatles were on a second US tour. Jane almost fluffed it when they would not let her into the group's hotel suite. Locked out with her was Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, but eventually they both got in. Even in those days, she admits, she was "a middle-aged lady with dyed blond hair". She took instantly to Paul McCartney - Sir Paul - and he still sends her birthday cards.

"There is no other person in America like her," says Bob Santelli, education director at the Hall of Fame. "What is interesting is how many major rock stars, from David Bowie to Bruce Springsteen, really adore her and give her the kind of attention that other music journalists would die for. I've done shows with Springsteen where he will say, 'Is Janey here? I want to see her.'" At a recent appearance at Cleveland's Coliseum, Springsteen added "Dancing in the Dark" to his set at the last moment and dedicated it to Jane.

Some now whisper that Jane no longer competes as a writer, and is simply too nice about every artist. She will go to almost anything. A colleague on the Dealer can only remember her once refusing to see a band. It was called Living With The Thrill Kill Kult. She enjoys heavy metal, underground and even some rap. "I can get bored of it sometimes, but I think Snoop Doggy Dogg is good, you know, he presents himself well. But I don't dig his attitude towards women," Asked to list her favourite acts, she offers the Kinks, Springsteen, ZZ Top, Rage Against The Machine and the Wallflowers.

Jim Benson, 40, a Cleveland disc jockey, remembers going to see a "really disgusting" group called the Mentors when he was 15. "They were singing about anal sex and stuff and someone pointed out Jane Scott. She looked like my mother, I couldn't believe it. In those days everyone read Jane Scott on Friday to find out what was going on. Before MTV and music television there was Jane. She was the source."

Some friends allow themselves an occasional laugh at Jane's eccentricities. Our day together began with her stuffing slices of toast into her bag at breakfast that would later become peanut butter sandwiches. "It is part of my survival kit," she explains. "I never go out without it." Other items include ear-plugs, safety pins and a little pack of Kleenex for toilet purposes. "One time, I was at a Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Grateful Dead concert - phew, wasn't that a strange combination? - and they ran out of lavatory paper."

Then there was the recent evening when Jane insisted on going to the newspaper canteen for an ice-cream before leaving for a Tracy Chapman concert. A colleague recalls Jane squealing in the middle of an especially moody number on realising she had put the ice-cream in her handbag and forgotten about it. The ensuing scene as Jane turned out the soggy contents of the bag distracted even Chapman.

Pressed about her age, Jane says she has no thoughts of retiring. She concedes, however, that it has been hard for a long time to get any of her peers to accompany her to, say, a Soundgarden gig. "Oh, dear, they've never heard of them. I used to take their children, but now it is their granchildren."

Back at the Atomic, I tap Jane on the shoulder. She wakes in a flash and seems embarrassed, as if her reputation for geriatric stamina may somehow have been marred. It had not. And at any rate, ear-splitting Iodine, we both agree as we stumble out on to the street, had not warranted staying awake for.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?