Shawn Lane


photograph of Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane (March 21, 1963 – September 26, 2003) was an American multiinstrumentalist and composer.

He is best known for his solo album Powers of Ten and his long stint with former John McLaughlin bassist and virtuoso in his own right Jonas Hellborg.

Shawn Lane was born in Memphis, Tennessee. At the age of eight he accompanied his sisters on the piano, but did not play guitar seriously until he was ten. Shawn progressed very rapidly on the guitar, and he found it to be his natural instrument. At thirteen, Shawn began to practice heavily, developing his technical abilities. Word began to spread around Memphis about a talented young guitar player, and at fourteen Shawn auditioned for the lead guitar spot in Black Oak Arkansas. At fifteen, Shawn saw Allan Holdsworth at a UK concert and was inspired to develop his own method of playing guitar.

At eighteen Shawn Lane was married and burnt out from touring with Black Oak Arkansas so he decided to take a break and learn more about music. Over the next eight years or so, he studied music and composing on his own and mainly worked on playing piano. Much of the material on Powers of Ten was conceived at his piano, as Shawn considered it his main writing instrument. He began to create demo tapes for "Powers of Ten" which got into the hands of Warner Brothers Music through his friend Reggie Jackson. The people at Warner Brothers liked what they heard and offered Shawn a record deal. Shawn wrote all the material on "Powers of Ten", except for a cover of [title]"West Side Boogie[/title] by Ray Gomez, and he played all the instruments. Shawn's first album did well for an underground cult guitarist and earned several awards in magazines. During the writing of "Powers of Ten", he also played local gigs and did session work.

Most of Shawn's life was spent playing in top 40 bands to support his wife and daughter. One well-known original song recorded by his main cover band "The Willys", entitled "Simple Lives" and produced by Isaias Garcia, showcased his ability to perform in mainstream rock structures and yet show his original talent. He also performed on the fusion album "Centrifugal Funk", together with Brett Garsed and Frank Gambale for the Mark Varney Project. Shawn only released two more solo works in his lifetime, a live version of "Powers of Ten" called The Powers of Ten Live!, and The Tri-Tone Fascination.

When Shawn met Jonas Hellborg a musical relationship was formed. They both enjoyed classical, rock, Pakistani and Indian music, all of which can be heard in their recordings. Shawn and Jonas played with drummer Jeff Sipe in a jam band commonly referred to as HLS. Jeff was already famous in the jam band scene, and helped the trio get exposure all over the world. Later, Jonas and Shawn formed an East-West fusion band with Indian musicians V. Selvaganesh and Umamahesh.

Shawn had psoriasis his whole life and also suffered from psoriatic arthritis from the age of about 13. This did little to impair his playing once he got going, but sometimes he could hardly walk, and he had trouble getting around. On September 26, 2003 Shawn died in a hospital in Memphis, shortly after being told that he would have to remain on medical oxygen the rest of his life. He is interred in the Memorial Park Cemetery, Memphis.
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Gear used by Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane electric guitars

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