John Paul Jones (musician)

From Academic Kids

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Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones in 1972.

John Paul Jones, pseudonym of John Baldwin, born January 3, 1946, was the bassist and keyboard player for Led Zeppelin until the band's breakup after the death of John Bonham in 1980. He can also play guitar, mandolin, koto, autoharp, ukulele, mellotron, organ, cello, and the over-dubbed bass recorder on Stairway to Heaven.

Jones was born in Sidcup, Kent. The name John Paul Jones was suggested to him by a friend, Andrew Loog Oldham, after seeing a movie poster with that name on it in France.

Jones learned his keyboard skills from his father, Joe Baldwin, who was a pianist and arranger for big bands in the 40's and 50's, 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 Rachmaninov. Jones was a student at Christ College boarding school in Kent where he formally studied music. At the age of 14, he 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 Fender Jazz bass. The fluid playing of Chicago musician Phil Upchurch made him decide to take up the bass guitar. Jones continued to use that Fender bass up until 1975.

Jones joined his first band at 15, which was called The Deltas. He then played bass for jazz-rock London group, Jett Blacks. His big break came in 1962 when he met Jet Harris and Tony Meehan (who had just left the Shadows) and played bass for their band for two years. Jet and Tony had just been at Number 1 hit with "Diamonds" (a track which Jimmy Page was on). In 1964, Jones began session work with Decca Records on the recommendations of Tony Meehan. Between 1964 and 1968 he was much in demand arranging, playing keyboards or bass guitar for artists including The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, Donovan, 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.

Jones also got to record with fellow friends of Tony Meehan and Jet Harris, none other than Meehan and Harris' ex-band, Cliff Richard and the Shadows.

Before these recordings, Cliff Richard and the Shadows nearly changed history, by nearly preventing the future formation of Led Zeppelin, when they had talks about Jones replacing their ex-bassist Brian "Licorice" Locking. Instead they chose John Rostill.

It was during the sessions for Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man that Jones met Jimmy Page and the two would eventually link up again during the making of the Yardbirds Little Games album, with Jones contributing orchestral arrangements and playing cello on the opening track "Little Games". Although the album did not fare well commercially, the session did result in Jones and Page discussing to work again in the future. A year later, as Chris Dreja had decided to leave Page's group and take up photography, Jones was Page's first choice for bass player in The New Yardbirds, later to become Led Zeppelin. His decision to leave session work and join a group was due to his desire to express his artistic creativity. Despite the spotlight being placed on Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Jones' temperament, musicianship, and experience were crucial to creating the bedrock sound and success of Led Zeppelin.

Jones was responsible for the classic bass lines of the group, notably the descending notes on "Dazed and Confused" (Led Zeppelin), the funk influenced riffs of "The Lemon Song" and "What Is and What Should Never Be" (Led Zeppelin II), and the power crunch of "Black Dog" (untitled fourth album). After "retiring" his Fender Jazz bass in 1975, Jones switched to using custom designed Alembics [1] ( His keyboard skills added an eclectic dimension that realised Led Zeppelin as more than just a heavy metal band, most notably on the delicate "The Rain Song" (Houses of the Holy) played on a Mellotron, the funky, danceable "Trampled Under Foot" (Physical Graffiti), and the eastern scales of "Kashmir" (also on Physical Graffiti). On live performances, Jones' keyboard showpiece was "No Quarter", often lasting for up to half-an-hour and included snatches of "Amazing Grace" and variations of classical pieces by composers such as Rachmaninov. His diversity for the group also extended to other instruments, which included unusual double and even triple necked mandolins.

While all members of Led Zeppelin had a reputation as party animals (a reputation Robert Plant later claimed was somewhat exaggerated), Jones was seen as the professional member of the group, as his excesses never hindered his performance, in contrast with Page and Bonham in Led Zeppelin's later years. Jones later claimed that everything he did was kept private, so no one would know about it.

It is rumored that the Led Zeppelin song "Royal Orleans", from their album (Presence) is about an experience Jones once had. 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.

Jones' involvement with Led Zeppelin however did not halt his session work. In 1969 he returned to the studio to play bass guitar on Family Dogg's 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 Back to the Egg Rockestra.

Since 1980 his collaborators have included R.E.M., Heart, Ben E. King, The Mission, La Fura Dels Baus, Brian Eno, and The Butthole Surfers. He appeared on a number of sessions and videos for Paul McCartney and was involved in the soundtrack of the film Give My Regards to Broad Street. In 1986, Jones was asked by director Michael Winner to provide the soundtrack for the film, Scream for Help, with Jimmy Page appearing on two tracks. He recorded and toured with Diamanda Gals 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.

Zooma, his debut solo album, was released in September 1999 and followed up in 2001 by Thunderthief which includes his debut as a solo vocalist.

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.

Jones plays on the Foo Fighters' new album In Your Honor. The band's Dave Grohl has described his guest appearance as the second greatest thing to happen to him in his life.

Selected discography

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

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

External links

Led Zeppelin
John Bonham - John Paul Jones - Jimmy Page - Robert Plant
Original albums: Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin III - Untitled - Houses of the Holy - Physical Graffiti - Presence - The Song Remains the Same - In Through the Out Door - Coda
Other albums: Boxed Set - Profiled - Remasters - Boxed Set 2 - The Complete Studio Recordings - BBC Sessions - Early Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume One - Latter Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume Two - How the West Was Won
Films: The Song Remains the Same - Led Zeppelin DVD
Songs: "The Battle of Evermore" - "Dazed and Confused" - "Stairway to Heaven" - "When the Levee Breaks"
Other: Peter Grant - Swan Song Records

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