Shawn Lane

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Shawn Memorial Plaque.
Shawn Memorial Plaque.

Shawn Lane was born March 21, 1963 and died September 26, 2003.

From an early age he quickly became a noted player in underground guitar circles and joined Black Oak Arkansas when he was just fourteen years old.



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.
Lane progressed very rapidly on the guitar, and he found it to be his natural instrument.
At thirteen, he began to practice heavily, developing his technical abilities.
Word began to spread around Memphis about a talented young guitar player, and at fourteen he auditioned for the lead guitar spot in Black Oak Arkansas. Black Oak Arkansas had been a popular country rock band but at the time when Lane joined the band's popularity was declining.

Shawn aged 17.
Shawn aged 17.

At age fifteen Lane saw Allan Holdsworth perform at a UK concert and was inspired to develop his own method of playing guitar. Shawn toured with Black Oak Arkansas for the next four years. As the original band members dropped out, Lane began recruiting players from his high school days and began to play a style closer to fusion than the country rock style for which the band was known.

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 he studied music and composing on his own and mainly worked on playing piano.
Much of the material on "Powers of Ten" was written on his piano as Lane considered it his main writing instrument.
He quickly developed his technique on keyboards as well, taking influence from pianists like Liszt, Tatum and Cziffra.
He began to create demo tapes which garnered interest from Warner Brothers Music and Lane was offered a recording contract.
Except for one cover song, Lane wrote all the material and played all the instruments on his debut album.
The album did well and earned several magazine awards.[4] During the production of the album Lane continued to play live shows and did session work. He also performed on the Mark Varney Project's Centrifugal Funk album along with Brett Garsed and Frank Gambale.

Lane released two more solo albums following his debut. Powers of Ten Live!, recorded live in 1993, and The Tri-Tone Fascination.

When Lane met Jonas Hellborg a musical relationship was formed. They both enjoyed classical, rock, Pakistani, and Indian music.
Lane and Hellborg played with drummer Jeff Sipe in a jam band commonly referred to as HLS (Hellborg, Lane, Sipe).
Sipe was already well known in the jam band scene as the original drummer for Aquarium Rescue Unit, and helped HLS get exposure all over the world.
Later, Lane and Hellborg formed an East-West fusion band with Indian musicians V. Selvaganesh and Umamahesh. In February 2003, Lane and Hellborg toured India with drummer Andrea Marchesini. Lane's last concert performance was at Smilefest in North Carolina with Hellborg and Jim Britt.


Lane had psoriasis his whole life and also suffered from psoriatic arthritis from the age of about 13.
This did not impair his playing but caused difficulty walking, and required treatment with steroids which seriously affected Shawn's weight so much that he weighed over 300 pounds in the years before his death (though Shawn was slim in his youth).
He also smoked constantly.
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.

Shawn months before his death.
Shawn just months before his death


1992 West Side Boogie (Promo Single)
1992 Powers of Ten (Warner Bros.)
1999 The Tri-Tone Fascination
2001 Powers of Ten: Live!

With Michael Shrieve:
1996 Two Doors

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

Shawn talking about improving technique and speed.


Sweepeing, Alternat Picking by Pavel Denisjuk.
Sweep Picking Etude by Pavel Denisjuk.
C Minor picking Etude by Muris Varajic.
Alternate Picking Chops by David Wallimann.
Alternate Picking - 16th note exercises by Jose Mena.

--Sensible Jones 18:48, 9 February 2009 (CET)