John Paul Jones (musician)

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John Paul Jones
Years active 1962–
Status Active
Origin Sidcup
Music genre(s) Hard rock, Blues rock, Folk rock

John Paul Jones (born John David Baldwin, 3 January 1946, Sidcup, Kent) is an English multi-intrumentalist musician and arranger, famous for his performances with Led Zeppelin, and numerous session appearances.

Early session career

An only child, Jones' father was Joe Baldwin, an accomplished jazz musician who had played with the British Ambrose Orchestra in the big band era, and his mother was a singer. His father had also played piano at the cinema to accompany silent films, and Jones himself was playing piano by the age of 6. Later Jones and his father had a piano/bass duo, working at hunt balls, bar mitzvahs, and cocktail parties. In the summer they had a residency at the Isle of Wight Yacht Club. His father encouraged him to learn to read and write music, a skill which would prove invaluable in his career.

Jones had first taken up the bass at 13 whilst a student at Christ College boarding school in London, bought reluctantly by his dad and only because he had joined a band and couldn't get his piano in the van. His father had said, according to Jones, '"Don't bother with it. Take up the tenor saxophone. In 2 years the bass guitar will never be heard of again." I said, "No Dad, I really want one; there's work for me." He said, "Ah, there's work?" And I got a bass right away.'

When Jones was 17, he turned professional and joined Jet Harris and Tony Meehan's band. His work on their recording 'Diamonds' led Jones into contact with the up-and-coming young session guitarist, Jimmy Page. He stayed with Harris and Meehan for two years and in 1964 started session work at Decca Records. A solo single 'Baja' on Pye Records followed in April 1964. This is now a much sought after rarity. As well as bass, he played keyboards and arranged, and was much in demand in the London session scene over the next four years. The roll call of British artists who used his services ranged from Dusty Springfield to Rod Stewart, but perhaps his most famous work was arranging and playing on Donovan Leitch's 'Sunshine Superman'. He had originally been booked just to play bass but ended up doing most of the arrangements. The record had sales of 3 million units and led Jones to doing all of the arrangements for the follow-up single, 'Mellow Yellow'. The 'Mellow Yellow' sessions also involved Jimmy Page and this led Jones to book Page to play on Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man album.

By the time Led Zeppelin formed in 1968, Jones had played on sessions with, among others, Everly Brothers, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Lulu and Jeff Beck. He arranged the single 'She's a Rainbow' for the Rolling Stones and also worked on several tracks on Their Satanic Majesties Request album. Jones also worked with producer Mickie Most for his act, Herman's Hermits.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin was formed in late 1968 when guitarist Jimmy Page wanted to reform the Yardbirds (Page was in the previous incarnation). Page's close friend and adviser was manager Peter Grant and it was he who had 'inherited' the ownership of the Yardbirds name. Thus, he began looking around for others to join the band, and after Chris Dreja had quit to take up photography, the first player to link up with Page was Jones. Jones had previously sessioned on the Yardbirds Little Games album.

During the band's reign, Jones really came into the forefront on the 1979 album, In Through the Out Door. It was the band's ninth album and it was the first time that Jones would be the primary composer of all but one track ('Hot Dog'). Moreover, his keyboard skills were heard throughout the album.

Solo years

When the band called it a day after John Bonham's death in 1980, Jones kept himself busy. He professes his interests to be in keyboards and dance music, rather than rock. Among a variety of projects, the stand-out sessions and collaborations have been: producing the Mission's second album, Children; working as music director and co-ordinator on the 1991-1992 Expo in Seville, Spain; working on critically successful projects: REM's album Automatic for the People for which he did the orchestral arrangements for four songs, 'Drive', 'Everybody Hurts', 'The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight' and 'Nightswimming'.

He appeared in Paul McCartney's motion picture and soundtrack for Give My Regards to Broadstreet. Jones appeared on stage with Plant once (in December 1983), during the latter's Principle of Moments tour. He composed for and performed with the early music ensemble Red Byrd. Jones appeared on and assisted with Ben E. King's reunion tour and album. He produced albums by John Renbourn, Stefan Grossman, and his daughter (Jacinda Jones), as well as a group he referred to as 'industrial flamenco': La Sura Dels Baus. He did string arrangements for Cinderella's Heartbreak Station, Raging Slab's Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert, guested on a Brian Eno album, and appeared on Peter Gabriel's Us playing surdu, bass, and keyboards. Jones produced and played some bass on the Butthole Surfers album, Independent Worm Saloon.

Jones also moved into film soundtracks in 1986 for Michael Winner's Scream for Help, a project for which he recruited Page and Jon Anderson. Other projects included production and performance for a live Heart album, production for a new Michael Penn album, and performance and production for his album with Diamanda Galás entitled The Sporting Life, for which he toured the US. He also made a surprise appearance as Lenny Kravitz's bassist at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards. In 1999, he released his debut solo album, Zooma. The follow-up, Thunderthief, was released in 2001. In 2004 he toured with Mutual Admiration Society. He followed this by playing on two tracks of the Foo Fighters' 2005 album In Your Honor.

Jones rejoined Robert Plant, Page and drummer Jason Bonham for a Led Zeppelin reunion on 10 December 2007, for a tribute concert to Ahmet Ertegun, fuelling rumours of a full blown Led Zeppelin reunion. On 7 June 2008, Page and Jones joined Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins onstage at Wembley Stadium to perform Led Zeppelin tracks 'Rock and Roll', proceeded by 'Ramble On'. The BBC reported on 26 August 2008, that Page, Jones, and Jason Bonham have been recording material which may become a new Led Zeppelin project, although Robert Plant has not been mentioned yet.[1]

Them Crooked Vultures

In 2009, Jones recorded a new album with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl as Them Crooked Vultures, and participated in a world tour to promote it.[2]

Jones is married and has three children.


  1. Led Zeppelin trio back in studio (August 2008). Retrieved on 14 July 2013.
  2. Gary Graff (4 August 2009). Homme, Grohl and John Paul Jones Set for Lollapalooza After Show. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved on 14 July 2013.