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Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane was a phenomenally talented guitar player who never quite broke out beyond guitar enthusiasts and critics, but will remain influential to players for many years to come. Originally hailed as a child prodigy, Lane joined Black Oak Arkansas as a teenager, and could have been part of the guitar shredder movement of the late '80s and '90s, but his restless musical inclinations led him down a different path.

Lane began his musical education on piano and cello at age four, but had switched to guitar by age eight. At ten, he was holding band rehearsals at the house he shared with his grandmother, and since the other bandmembers left their instruments at his house, Lane was free to try them out, and added bass and drums to his keyboard and guitar abilities. By 15, Lane was becoming known in Memphis circles as a guitarist, which led to an audition with Black Oak Arkansas in 1978, who he toured with for the next four years. Black Oak Arkansas was still popular enough to play at Bill Clinton's inaugural as Governor of Arkansas, but the band's heyday was well behind them. After disbanding briefly, BOA was re-formed with a couple of Shawn's high school friends joining the band, and bringing a heavy fusion edge to this southern boogie band. Then, burnt out from touring, Lane basically dropped out of sight in 1982 for a couple years, practiced piano, studied music theory and composition, and did a lot of reading and watching movies (he claims he barely played guitar at all during this period).

The mid-'80s saw Shawn returning to guitar: first playing in some bands around the south, then appearing on an album produced by Mike Varney on the Shrapnel label, with a tune called "Stratosphere II" on the U.S. Metal compilation (his first available recording). Shortly afterwards, he formed a band called the Willys, who were the house band at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Many touring musicians caught Lane's playing while staying there, and word of mouth led to session work, and eventually to his playing on the Highwayman 2 album with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. That high profile work ,and a demo cassette passed to Jim Ed Norman at Warner Brothers led to Lane being signed to Warner Brothers in 1990.

Lane spent the next two years at home, creating the Powers of Ten album, on which he played every instrument. Following its release in 1992, Guitar Player Magazine named him "Best New Talent" and he placed second in Keyboard Magazine's "Best Keyboard Player" category. A touring band was assembled to promote the album, and a live recording was made, though it wasn't released until 2001(Powers of Ten Live!). His next project was DDT, a band that also featured Cody and Luther Dickenson, later of the North Mississippi Allstars. The DDT material was supposed to be for Lane's second album for Warner Bros., but the recording never materialized. Also at this time, Lane did production work for other artists, did a couple instructional videos, and developed curricula and taught at several European Conservatories.

1994 would be an important year for Lane, as it marked his first collaboration with Swedish bassist Jonas Hellborg, a relationship that would continue for nearly a decade and produce many releases (mostly on the Bardo label). Lane and Hellborg were perfect collaborators, sharing many of the same musical influences and many other interests as well, and it was playing with Hellborg that Lane really discovered his voice on guitar. They toured with drummer Jeff Sipe over the next several years, developing such a rapport that they were able to play completely improvised sets every night (documented on albums like Temporal Analogues of Paradise and Time Is the Enemy). Concurrently, in 1995, Hellborg and Lane played with Chinese pop singer Wei-Wei, and the Hellborg/Lane/Sipe trio appeared as an opening act at all of Mainland China's largest musical venues.

Lane and Hellborg parted ways with Sipe in 1997, allowing Lane to work on the tracks that would become Tri-Tone Fascination, his second solo album in 1999. Also at this time, he and Hellborg began incorporating more Near Eastern and Eastern influences into their playing and improvising (Zenhouse, ). In 1999, Lane and Hellborg began working with V. Selvaganesh, son of percussionist Vikku Vinayakram of Shakti fame, and began pushing the music into more of a South Indian fusion, as evidenced by Good People in Times of Evil.

Lane started having health problems in 2001, temporarily breaking off his work with Hellborg. After recovering, Lane started playing with a Memphis bar band called the Time Bandits, but was back with Hellborg and Sipe for a brief tour in 2002. There was also more work with the Vinayakrams, resulting in Icon, a dazzling work of East-West fusion that, unfortunately proved to be among Lane's final recorded works. There was a brief tour of India in February of 2003, but Lane's health problems returned, and on Sept. 26, 2003, Shawn Lane passed away following lung surgery. ~ Sean Westergaard, Rovi
full bio

Comments

johnjohns06
Don't even try to play like Shawn Lane. It just is not happening. Never.
Unbelievable talent and that doesn't do him justice. Maybe not Of this Earth. Rip.
TREMENDOUS PLAYER
Listening to his version of "the hurt the joy" best version i have ever heard.
soujrnr
The guy is a complete animal on guitar!! He could play with finess as well as shred like no human. Love watching him on YouTube!! Makes we want to burn my guitars.
man he was great-one of a kind
Guitar Messiah for sure....
srican69
This was the second coming .. in case you did not notice
Like Eric Johnson on cocaine
The Way it Has To Be......that song...
Whoever I am.....yes, I like this song```````` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
It was the period in 1982 Post-Black Oak that I met Shawn in Memphis...I was part of the Memphis State Univ commercial music/record i n g engineering degree program that they just started, and was able to do some recording with Shawn at that time. He played all instruments on the recordings then too, including piano and keyboard...h e was living at his Grandmother' s home..years later at the clubs he would blow minds with players like Joe Walsh in the audience regularly on Beale St. & The Square, etc
bachgogi1
A best rock guitarist. ..no one comes even close.
v_love_d
Out of print " Powers of Ten" by Shawn, can sometimes be found on eBay . It's a gem worth hunting for !
. ..Never heard of this musician until today. One of the few guitarists that was able to blend speed with lyricism. As is often the case the best musicians leave us far too soon…
Its like rthis...kind a rocketing up ocean swells...and flying and pretending you had something to do with where you land...fun..
Love ...really, you know...that kind of song...that you feel as a guitarist and it gets under you skin....almo s t almost twisting you thoughts.. reminding you also to ...well...sh u t up and pick up your own guitar and well....Damn ! its very much like sex.... what else....(spe e d i n g in boats?)
srican69
All this silly discussion of being being 'faster' player is not something expected from folks who listen to shawn lane .... it like comparing the length and breadth of Monet and Picasso paintings and then implying one was better than the other ....C'mon people ...
Words can't describe Shawn. Why bother, he was not human. God gave us a musical Angel for a little while, then he took him back. Can you blame him ?
I can't even IMAGINE Lane and Jason Becker collaboratin g . . . .
I was pulled over by the Califorrnia Highway Patrol in on I-10 for excessive speed back in 2009...when the officer asked me why I was speeding I said it was the music I was jammin....he gave a listen and asked me, " Who is that".... I gave him the CD and told him to keep it......He said..."than k you" and "have a good evening".. I was shocked..I had been going East towards Vegas...some w
mlsgls
He was certainly fast, but his phrasing and tone are what I absolutely LOVE about Shawn Lane...RIP.
If you like Shawn Lane, Rob Jarzombek is more than worth a listen as well =>
Freakin Shawn Lane man... I've never heard anything quite like it
music for speeding floats my boat!

When I get a car that CD has 2 be onboard!
also worth a listen is marty friedman!!

:o)
there are plenty of faster players than Eddie or Yngwie...Lan e is indeed the fastest...Va i and Batio are probably right there with him.
Shawn Lane was undoubtedly an uncommonly talented man!! His excellence will persist as his music will play on!

God rest his soul!!

Timothy


:o)
ibanezblooz
Check out Shawn's work with Jonas Hellborg and Jeff Sipe - the album Personae (a Jonas Hellborg title) particularly is FROM ANOTHER WORLD. Unfortunatel y it doesn't appear to be on Pandora :(
music is not about speed its all about the heart but guess what shawn lane had both
First time I heard him; that was nice. Eric Johnson's pretty hot too.
jlenati
I agree with Mr. Ford. Lane was a masterful guitarist and he was actually timed alternate picking faster than both EVH and YM.
mrford_777
WHy would you guys compare him to EVH or YM? They are all unique. Who gives a s**t who's faster? Shawn Lane was in a class all by himself. A virtuoso whos ability is rarely taken in in a lifetime. An immense talent that is missed.
Yngwie is faster than EVH but Shawn Lane is faster than both... simply check youtube and start comparing. (I think the neophytes are in need of way more studies!)
i am proud to call him my uncle..he was truly talented RIP Shawn
Shawn Lane's style is a lot cleaner than Eddie or Yngwie. They can play faster, sure, but it sounds like garbage.
No, either eddie or yngwie is the fastest. This guy didn't even come close.
This is really , really good, wished i would have seen him play.
readmemymira n d a s
Never heard of him 'til now. Damn, he was smooth and fast. Very good. Shame he's no longer with us.
D*MN! I didn't know he was dead... :*( Shawn Lane was amazing! R.I.P.
kohsat
The fastest guitarist ever........ . . . . . . . . . and the only one who had the guts to dabble in improvisatio n a l music with all that speed....... . . . . . . . . R I P Shawn....... . .
andyczech
damn...what a good stuff I get to hear on Pandora. This is very good...
tonyn9
I think he borrowed Eric Johnsons rig for this song NICE TONE
This guy is gr8!

Timothy

:o)
yyztsejam
Wow, I had never heard anything by Shawn Lane before. Simply amazing guitar work, very talented style. It's too bad I've just discovered him.
Shawn Lane is one of the most unbelievable guitarists of our time.
I wish they would re-release Powers of Ten. One of the greatest recordings EVER. R.I.P. brother
check Shawn out on You Tube, f-n amazing
no one was faster, or cleaner / R.I.P. SHAWN
Shawn was also famous for being in Black Oak Arkansas a band that reminded many of Van Halen before Van Halen he was 15 when playing the role of Eddie in this band and the lead singer even looked like David lee Roth. Shawn was way better than Eddie even Yngwie was no match to this shred guitar wizard. Those who have gone to youtube and witnessed his videos are blown away
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