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Music / Shawn Lane

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Shawn Lane (March 21, 1963 – September 26, 2003) was a guitar player versed in so many styles that it's hard to pinpoint one. His most popular stuff is classified as Jazz Fusion, so let's go with that.

Shawn began his musical career playing piano, but picked up a guitar when he was 10, and found he did much better with that. By age of 14, he was the lead guitarist for southern rock band Black Oak Arkansas, and bootleg videos were quickly making their way around underground guitar circles.

Quitting Black Oak Arkansas when he was 18, and settling down with a family, Shawn switched from playing rock to playing a very outside style of fusion, heavily influenced by Allan Holdsworth.

Having recorded only a couple solo albums, Shawn found much more joy creating music with bassist Jonas Hellborg. The two both admired the other's playing, and shared common musical direction.


Towards the end of his life, Shawn became fascinated with Indian music. When on his pilgrimage to India, Shawn broke the stereotype of the uneducated Westerner, and gained respect amongst many prominent Indian musicians as being nearly indistinguishable from a formally trained classical Indian musician.

Throughout his life, and especially after his death, Shawn Lane is considered by many to have been God's gift to guitar, and has influenced many of today's best guitarists.


Shawn Lane albums

  • 1992: West Side Boogie (promo single)
  • 1992: Powers of Ten
  • 1999: The Tri-Tone Fascination
  • 2001: Powers of Ten; Live!

Albums with Jonas Hellborg

  • 1995: Abstract Logic
  • 1996: Temporal Analogues of Paradise
  • 1997: Time Is the Enemy
  • 1999: Zenhouse
  • 2000: Good People in Times of Evil
  • 2002: Personae
  • 2003: Icon: A Transcontinental Gathering

Shawn Lane provides examples of:

  • Epic Rocking - Many of his songs are well over the 5 minute mark. In his later material, especially with Jonas Hellborg, a lot of songs top 15 minutes.
  • Ill Boy: Shawn had psoriasis and arthiritis, and between those two, and the various medicine he had to use to deal with them, his health was basically a vicious cycle.
  • Improv
  • Serial Escalation- We've all seen those videos of so called "impossible" guitar solos on youtube. Frequently, these utilize two hand fretboard techniques and lots of speed. Shawn could easily play those kinds of solos with only one hand on the fretboard, and at least going three times as fast.
  • Signature Song - Probably Gray Pianos Flying.
  • Supergroup - The Mark Varney Project was pretty much a fusion supergroup, which Shawn being one of the guitar players.


Example of: