Shawn Lane Biography

21 March 1963, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, d. 26 September 2003. A questing mind and a ferocious talent combined to make Shawn Lane one of the most interesting guitarists to emerge in the 90s.

Astonishingly precocious, at the age of four Lane sat at the piano, playing accompaniment as other family members took singing lessons. Later, he took piano lessons and also took up the cello. It was at the age of 10, however, that his musical direction was settled when he began playing guitar. Within two years he was playing professionally and a couple more years after that, as a member of Black Oak Arkansas, he was touring nationally, opening shows for bands such as REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, the Outlaws, Cheap Trick and Blue Öyster Cult. Black Oak Arkansas was also part of the entertainment when yet-to-be president Bill Clinton was inaugurated as Governor of Arkansas. Although they had started out as a rock band, Black Oak Arkansas shifted gear somewhat and became a fusion band. The pressure of this intensive music making and touring finally got to Lane and at 18 he quit the band, married, and began studying classical music. After two years, he resumed playing rock, working with various bands in the south and also leading his own group, the Willy’s. Owing to a residency at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, word spread and he was offered a tour with Alice Cooper but opted to stay put.

During the late 80s, Lane played with various bands and solo artists, appearing on many recording sessions: Alex Chilton, Mark Lindsay, Jimi Jamison, Al Kapone, Larry Raspberry, Sam And Dave, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh and Tony Joe White. In 1990 Lane was invited to appear on Highwayman 2 with featured artists Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. His work on this album led to a contract with Warner Brothers Records and his 1992 debut, Powers Of Ten. That year saw a national promotional tour for the album and several awards, including Best New Talent in Guitar Player magazine and second place in Best Keyboard Player category in Keyboard Player magazine. He also began producing records for other artists and became active in education, recording two instructional videos and teaching and developing curricula for European musical institutions.

In 1994, Lane worked with Jonas Hellborg, their collaborations resulting in the recording of albums and tours of Europe and the USA. This partnership, that also featured Apt. Q-258 (b. Jeff Sipe), performed highly sophisticated, all-improvised music, notably the works, Temporal Analogues Of Paradise and Time Is The Enemy. In the late 90s, Lane and Hellborg continued their musical association, now exploring Eastern music. Lane’s follow-up to his debut own-name album came in 1999 with The Tri-Tone Fascination, released on his own Eye Reckon label. This same year also saw another European tour and album with Hellborg.

Health problems drastically curtailed Lane’s activities at the start of the new century, although he began playing with the group Time Bandits and rejoined Hellborg and Sipe for a world tour in 2002. The guitarist lost his battle with lung disease the following September.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.