John Paul Jones

born on 3/1/1946 in Sidcup, England, United Kingdom

John Paul Jones (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
John Paul Jones
Birth name John Baldwin
Also known as John Paul Jones
Born January 3 1946
Sidcup, Kent, England
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal, folk rock, blues-rock, instrumental rock
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Arranger
Instruments Bass guitar, guitar, recorder, koto, lap steel guitar, autoharp, ukulele, clavinet, sitar, keyboards, keytar, mandolin, cello, vocals
Years active 1960
Labels Discipline Global Mobile, Atlantic, Swan Song
Associated acts Led Zeppelin, Donovan, Foo Fighters, Butthole Surfers, Them Crooked Vultures
Notable instruments
Fender Jazz Bass
Hammond Organ
Rhodes piano

John Paul Jones (born John Baldwin on 3 January 1946) is an English musician, composer, arranger, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist musician.

Best known as the bassist, keyboardist, and mandolin player for English rock band Led Zeppelin, Jones has since developed a solo career and is widely respected as both a musician and a producer. A versatile musician, Jones also plays guitar, koto, lap steel guitars, autoharp, ukulele, sitar, cello, continuum and the three over-dubbed recorder parts heard on Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven".

According to Allmusic, Jones "has left his mark on rock & roll music history as an innovative musician, arranger, and director."[1]

Jones is currently part of the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl. He plays the bass, piano and other instruments. This supergroup released their first single "New Fang", and is due to release their debut, self-titled album on November 17, 2009.


Early years

Jones was born in Sidcup, Kent (now part of Greater London). He started playing piano at age six, learning from his father, Joe Baldwin, a pianist and arranger for big bands in the 1940s and 1950s, notably with the Ambrose Orchestra. His mother was also in the music business which allowed the family to often perform together touring around England. His influences ranged from the blues of Big Bill Broonzy, the jazz of Charles Mingus, to the classical piano of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Because his parents often toured, Jones was sent to boarding school at a young age.[2] He was a student at Christ's College, Blackheath, London where he formally studied music. At the age of 14, Jones became choirmaster and organist at a local church and during that year, he also bought his first bass guitar, a Dallas solid body electric followed by a 1961 Fender Jazz Bass which he used until 1975. The fluid playing of Chicago musician Phil Upchurch on his You Can't Sit Down LP, which includes a memorable bass solo, is cited by Jones as being his inspiration to take up the instrument.[3]

Session work

Jones joined his first band, The Deltas, at 15. He then played bass for jazz-rock London group, Jett Blacks, a collective that included guitarist John McLaughlin.[4] Jones' big break came in 1962 when he was hired by Jet Harris and Tony Meehan of the successful British group The Shadows for a two-year stint. Shortly before hiring Jones, Harris and Meehan had just had a Number 1 hit with "Diamonds" (a track on which Jones' bandmate-to-be Jimmy Page had played.) Jones' collaboration with the Shadows nearly prevented the future formation of Led Zeppelin, when the parties engaged in talks about the possibility of Jones replacing their bassist Brian Locking, who left the band in October 1963. This never eventuated as John Rostill was ultimately chosen to fill the position.

In 1964, on the recommendation of Meehan, Jones began studio session work with Decca Records. From then until 1968, he played his 1961 Fender Jazz Bass on hundreds of recording sessions.[5] He soon expanded his studio work by playing keyboards, arranging and undertaking general studio direction, resulting in his services coming under much demand. He worked with numerous artists including the Rolling Stones on Their Satanic Majesties Request (Jones' string arrangement is heard on "She's A Rainbow")[6]; Herman's Hermits; Donovan (on "Sunshine Superman" and "Mellow Yellow"); Jeff Beck; Cat Stevens; Rod Stewart; Shirley Bassey; Lulu; and numerous others. As well as recording sessions with Dusty Springfield, Jones also played bass for her Talk of the Town series of performances. His arranging and playing on Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" resulted in producer Mickie Most using his services as choice arranger for many of his own projects, with Tom Jones, Nico, Wayne Fontana, the Walker Brothers, and many others. Such was the extent of Jones' studio work - amounting to hundreds of sessions - that he said years later that "I cant remember three quarters of the sessions I was on."[7]

It was during his time as a session player that Jones adopted the stage name John Paul Jones. This name was suggested to him by a friend, Andrew Loog Oldham, who had seen a poster for the film John Paul Jones in France.[8]

Jones has stated that, as a session musician, he was completing two and three sessions a day, six and seven days a week.[9] However, by 1968 he was quickly feeling burnt out due to the heavy workload: "I was arranging 50 or 60 things a month and it was starting to kill me."[10]

Led Zeppelin

Main article: Led Zeppelin


During his time as a session player, Jones often crossed paths with guitarist Jimmy Page [11], a fellow session veteran. In June 1966, Page joined The Yardbirds, and in 1967 Jones contributed to that band's Little Games album. The following winter, during the sessions for Donovan's The Hurdy Gurdy Man, Jones expressed to Page a desire to be part of any projects the guitarist might be planning.[12] Later that year, The Yardbirds disbanded, leaving Page and bassist Chris Dreja to complete some previously booked Yardbirds dates in Scandinavia. Before a new band could be assembled, Dreja left to take up photography. Jones, at the suggestion of his wife,[9] inquired to Page about the vacant position, and the guitarist eagerly invited Jones to collaborate. Page later explained:

Vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham joined the two to form a quartet. Initially dubbed the "New Yardbirds" for the Scandinavian dates, the band would soon be known as Led Zeppelin.

Contribution to the band

Jones' decision to leave session work and join a group was driven by his desire to express his artistic creativity. Despite the spotlight invariably being placed on the more flamboyant members of Led Zeppelin, many cite Jones' temperament, musicianship and experience as crucial elements adding to the success of the band. He was responsible for the classic bass lines of the group, notably those in "What Is and What Should Never Be" (Led Zeppelin II), and power crunch and shifting time signatures, such as those in "Black Dog" (Led Zeppelin IV). As Led Zeppelin's rhythm section-mate with drummer John Bonham, Jones shared an appreciation for funk and soul rhythmic grooves which strengthened and enhanced their musical affinity.[13] In an interview he gave to Global Bass magazine, Jones remarked on this common musical interest:

After "retiring" his Fender Jazz Bass in 1975, which he had been using since his days with The Shadows in the early 1960s, Jones switched to using custom-designed Alembics (as seen here) while out on the road. However, he still preferred to use the Jazz in the studio.

Jones' keyboarding skills added an eclectic dimension that realised Led Zeppelin as more than just a heavy metal band. Keyboard highlights include the delicate "The Rain Song" (Houses of the Holy) played on a Mellotron; the funky, danceable "Trampled Under Foot", played on a Clavinet (Physical Graffiti); and the eastern scales of "Kashmir" (also on Physical Graffiti). In live performances, Jones' keyboard showpiece was "No Quarter", often lasting for up to half-an-hour and sometimes including snatches of "Amazing Grace", Joaquín Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez", which had inspired Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, and variations of classical pieces by composers such as Rachmaninoff.

Jones' diverse contributions to the group extended to the use of other instruments, including an unusual triple-necked acoustic instrument consisting of a six and a twelve string guitar, and a mandolin. Jones often used bass pedals to supplement the band's sound while he was playing keyboards and mandolin.


While all members of Led Zeppelin had a reputation for off-stage excess (a label some have claimed was somewhat exaggerated),[14] Jones was widely seen as the most quiet and reserved member of the group.[15][16] His professionalism ensured that any excesses experienced on the road never hindered his performance. For his part, Jones has claimed that he had just as much fun on the road as his bandmates but was more discreet about it,[4] stating "I did more drugs than I care to remember. I just did it quietly."[9] Benoit Gautier, an employee of Atlantic Records in France, echoed this impression, stating that "The wisest guy in Led Zeppelin was John Paul Jones. Why? He never got caught in an embarrassing situation."[4]

In an interview, Jones explained that fame with Led Zeppelin was not something that he ever became preoccupied with:

However, following several exhausting tours and extended periods of time away from his family, by late 1973 Jones was beginning to show signs of disillusionment with life as a member of one of the biggest bands in the world. He considered quitting Led Zeppelin to spend more time with his family, but was talked into returning by the band's manager, Peter Grant.[17] Jones later explained his reservations:

"Royal Orleans"

It is rumoured that the Led Zeppelin song "Royal Orleans", from their album Presence is about an experience Jones once had on tour in the United States.[4] The song is about a person who mistakenly takes a drag queen up to his hotel room, who then falls asleep with a joint of marijuana in hand, lighting the room on fire. "Royal Orleans" was the name of a hotel where the members of Led Zeppelin would stay when they visited New Orleans, because not as many people asked for autographs there. In an interview he gave to Mojo magazine in 2007, Jones clarified the reliability of this rumour, stating:

Other work during time with the band

Jones' involvement with Led Zeppelin did not put a halt to his session work. In 1969 he returned to the studio to play bass guitar on The Family Dogg's A Way of Life album, in 1970, keyboards for guitarist Peter Green on his solo album The End of the Game. Jones was Madeline Bell's first choice to produce and arrange her 1974 album Comin' Atcha. He has also played keyboards on many Roy Harper albums, and contributed to Wings Rockestra, Back to the Egg.

After Led Zeppelin

Since Led Zeppelin dissolved in 1980 with the death of Bonham, Jones has collaborated with a number of artists, including R.E.M., Heart, Ben E. King, Peter Gabriel, Foo Fighters, Cinderella, The Mission, La Fura dels Baus, Brian Eno, the Butthole Surfers and Uncle Earl.

He appeared on several sessions and videos for Paul McCartney and was involved in the soundtrack of the film Give My Regards to Broad Street. In 1985, Jones was asked by director Michael Winner to provide the soundtrack for the film, Scream for Help, with Jimmy Page appearing on two tracks. Jones provides vocals for two of the songs. He recorded and toured with singer Diamanda Galás on her 1994 album, The Sporting Life (co-credited to John Paul Jones). Jones set up his own recording studio called Sunday School, as well being involved in his daughter's (Jacinda Jones) singing career.

In 1985 Jones joined the other surviving members of Led Zeppelin for the Live Aid concert with both Phil Collins and Tony Thompson filling in on drums. The surviving members again re-formed for the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert on 14 May 1988. Page, Plant and Jones, as well as John Bonhams son Jason closed the event. The band has also played together at various private family functions.

In 1995 the band Heart released a live acoustic album called "The Road Home", (see The Road Home (Heart album))which was produced by Jones, and on which he also played several instruments.

Zooma, his debut solo album, was released in September 1999 on Robert Fripp's DGM label and followed up in 2001 by The Thunderthief. Both albums were accompanied by tours, in which he played with Nick Beggs (Chapman Stick) and Terl Bryant (drums).

In 2004, he toured as part of the group Mutual Admiration Society, along with Glen Phillips (the front man for the band Toad the Wet Sprocket) and the members of the band Nickel Creek.[18]

Jones plays on two tracks on Foo Fighters' album In Your Honor : mandolin on "Another Round" and piano on "Miracle", both of which are on the acoustic disc. The band's frontman Dave Grohl (a big Led Zeppelin fan) has described Jones' guest appearance as the "second greatest thing to happen to me in my life".

He has also branched out into album production, having produced such albums as The Mission album Children, The Datsuns' second album Outta Sight, Outta Mind (2004) and Uncle Earl's upcoming album.

Recently he accompanied Robyn Hitchcock and Ruby Wright in performing the song Gigolo Aunt at a tribute for Pink Floyd founder, Syd Barrett, in London, which he did on mandolin.[19]

He played at Bonnaroo 2007 in a collaboration with Ben Harper and Roots drummer Questlove as part of the festival's all-star Super-Jam, an annual tradition in the festival that brings together several famous, world-class musicians together to jam on stage together for a few hours. He came out and played mandolin with Gillian Welch at Bonnaroo during the song "Look at Miss Ohio" and a cover of the Johnny Cash song "Jackson." He also appeared during the set of Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals where they played a cover of "Dazed and Confused". Jones then closed Gov't Mule's first set, playing part of "Moby Dick" and then "Livin Lovin Maid" on bass, then proceeded to play keyboards on the songs "Since I've Been Loving You" and "No Quarter". Jones also performed on mandolin with all female blue-grass group Uncle Earl, whose album he had produced.

Mandolin-slinging Jones jammed on Led Zeppelins Whole Lotta Love with Winnipegs energetic Duhks at April 2007s MerleFest in North Carolina. [20]

Jones played in the Led Zeppelin reunion show at London's O2 Arena on 10 December 2007 as part of a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun.

In 2008, Jones produced Nickel Creek singer-fiddler Sara Watkins' debut solo album.[21][22][23] As previously mentioned, Jones toured with Watkins, Glen Phillips, and the rest of Nickel Creek in late 2004 in a collaboration entitled Mutual Admiration Society.

On 10 February 2008, John Paul Jones appeared with the Foo Fighters on the Grammys conducting the orchestral part to the song "The Pretender". On 7 June 2008, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page appeared with the Foo Fighters to close out the band's concert at Wembley Stadium. Jones performed with Sonic Youth and Takehisa Kosugi, providing the stage music for Merce Cunningham's Nearly 90, which ran 16-19 April 2009 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[24]

Jones' most recent project is a "supergroup" with Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. The group has been announced as Them Crooked Vultures.[25] The trio played their first show together on August 9, 2009, and their first album is due to be released on November 17.

Personal life

John met his wife, 'Mo' (Maureen) in 1965, and have been together since. They have 3 daughters, Jacinda, Tamara and Kierra.[26]


  • 1961 Fender Jazz Bass (used in studio and live performances)
  • 1951 Fender Precision Bass (used to play "Black Dog" live from 1971-1973)
  • Gibson EB-1 (seen on the inner wheel of Led Zeppelin III)
  • Fretless Fender Precision Bass
  • Fender Bass V
  • Ibanez RD300 Bass
  • Gibson mandolin, used in live acoustic performances.
  • Andy Manson custom Triple Neck Mandolin, 12 string & 6 string acoustic (used in live performances)
  • Alembic Triple Omega
  • Alembic Series II
  • Custom made Pedulla Rapture Bass
  • Acoustic Control Corporation 360 Bass Amp
  • Hammond organs
  • Hohner Clavinet
  • Hohner Electra-Piano
  • Fender Rhodes
  • Mellotron
  • Steinway piano
  • Yamaha CP-80 piano
  • Symbolic Sound Kyma system
  • Korg Trinity synthesizer
  • Yamaha GX1 synthesizer
  • EMS VCS3 Synthesizer
  • Moog 15 Modular Synthesizer


With Led Zeppelin

For a more comprehensive list, see Led Zeppelin discography
  • Led Zeppelin (1969)
  • Led Zeppelin II (1969)
  • Led Zeppelin III (1970)
  • Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
  • Houses of the Holy (1973)
  • Physical Graffiti (1975)
  • The Song Remains the Same (1976)
  • Presence (1976)
  • In Through the Out Door (1979)
  • Coda (1982)
  • BBC Sessions (1997)
  • How the West Was Won (2003)

Solo albums

John Paul Jones' first solo recording was a single for Pye Records in April 1964 which featured "Baja". The B-side was "A Foggy Day in Vietnam".

  • Scream for Help soundtrack (1985)
  • The Sporting Life, with Diamanda Galás (1994)
  • Zooma (1999)
  • The Thunderthief (2001)

With Them Crooked Vultures

  • Them Crooked Vultures (2009)


  • The Song Remains the Same (1976)
  • Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984)
  • The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993) Composer
  • Risk (1994) Composer
  • Led Zeppelin DVD (2003)


  1. Dillon, Charlotte. John Paul Jones Biography. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-11-11.
  2. Snow, Mat. The Secret Life of a Superstar, Mojo magazine, December 2007.
  3. Led Zeppelin In Their Own Words compiled by Paul Kendall (1981), London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-86001-932-2, p. 17.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Denver - Music - Getting Out of the Led
  5. Tolinski, Brad. (January 1998). "Like a Rock", Guitar World, p. 60.
  6. Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Triple J Music Specials - Led Zeppelin (first broadcast 2000-07-12)
  7. David Cavanagh, "Interview with John Paul Jones", Uncut.
  8. Fortnam, Ian. "Dazed & Confused", Classic Rock Magazine: Classic Rock Presents Led Zeppelin, 2008, p. 34.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Dominick A. Miserandino, Led Zeppelin - John Paul Jones,
  10. Tolinski, Brad. (January 1998). "Like a Rock". Guitar World, p. 122.
  11. "...I set about recording 16 HIP HITS at Regent Sound with [...] John Paul Jones playing bass and arranging and [...] Jimmy Page on guitars...", said Andrew Loog Oldham in his book STONED (isbn 0-312-26653-7), page 323.
  12. Led Zeppelin Biography. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-09-09.
  13. Murray, Charles Shaar. "21st century digital man", Classic Rock Magazine: Classic Rock Presents Led Zeppelin, 2008, p. 58.
  14. Chris Welch (1994) Led Zeppelin, London: Orion Books. ISBN 0-85797-930-3.
  15. Dave Lewis (2004) The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9, p. 77
  16. Gilmore, Mikal (10 August 2006). "The Long Shadow of Led Zeppelin". Rolling Stone (1006).
  17. Keith Shadwick (2005) Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music, 1968-1980, San Francisco: Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-971-0, p. 207
  18. Dansby, Andrew. "Toad Singer Up the Creek". Rolling Stone. 28 July 2004. Retrieved 16 January 2008.
  19. Pink Floyd news :: Brain Damage - Roger Waters and Pink Floyd at Syd tribute - full details
  20. "Whole Lotta Love with the Duhks"
  21. Dickens, Tad. "End of the road for Nickel Creek?". The Roanoke Times. 2 November 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  22. Fricke, David. "Reunited Zeppelin Plot Their Future". Rolling Stone. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  23. Watkins, Sara. "And then my friend yelled 'put your fists in the air.'". MySpace. 25 November 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2007.
  24. John Paul Jones on Merce Cunningham. Lifestyle News. Women's Wear Daily (14 April 2009). Retrieved on 2009-04-14.
  25. JOSH HOMME, JOHN PAUL JONES, DAVE GROHL Collaborate On New Project
  26. Maureen Jones & children

External links

  • John Paul Jones' Official Website
  • Led Zeppelin Official Site
  • JPJ Radio Interview 22 February 2002 with Chris Comer & Rob Ervin
Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page · Robert Plant · John Paul Jones · John Bonham
Discography - (Category)
Studio albums: Led Zeppelin · Led Zeppelin II · Led Zeppelin III ·  (Led Zeppelin IV) · Houses of the Holy · Physical Graffiti · Presence · In Through the Out Door

Live albums: The Song Remains the Same · BBC Sessions · How the West Was Won
Compilations: Box Set · Profiled · Remasters · Box Set 2 · Complete Studio Recordings · Early Days: Best of Led Zeppelin Volume One · Latter Days: Best of Led Zeppelin Volume Two · Coda

The Song Remains the Same · Led Zeppelin DVD
Other - (Category)
Peter Grant · Richard Cole · Swan Song Records · The Yardbirds · XYZ · The Firm · Page and Plant · Strange Sensation · Bootlegs Concerts Songs
This page was last modified 14.11.2009 02:37:03

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