Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3: John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin "Stairway to Heaven," "Whole Lotta Love, is 68-years-old today.

Born John Baldwin in 1946, in London, England, John Paul Jones was a founding members of the legendary group Led Zeppelin. He is remembered and revered as an innovative musician, arranger, and director.

In addition to bass and keyboards, Jones also plays guitar, koto, lap steel guitars, autoharp, violin, ukulele, sitar, cello, continuum and the three over-dubbed recorder parts heard on Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

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. His mother was also in the music business which allowed the family to often perform together touring around England.

In 1960, when Jones was only 14 years old, he became a member of his father's dance band. A year later Jones formed his first band, and by the next year he began to travel and perform professionally.

Jones joined his first band, The Deltas, at 15. He then played bass for a jazz-rock London group, Jett Blacks. His first 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 period. Shortly before hiring Jones, Harris and Meehan had just had a Number 1 hit with "Diamonds" - a track on which Jones' future bandmate Jimmy Page had played.

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Led Zeppelin

In 1964, Jones began studio session work with Decca Records. From then until 1968, he played on hundreds of recording sessions. 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, Herman's Hermits; Donovan, Jeff Beck, Françoise Hardy, Cat Stevens, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Shirley Bassey, Lulu and many other musicians. Jones has stated that, as a session musician, he was completing two and three sessions a day, six and seven days a week.

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.

During his time as a session player, Jones often crossed paths with guitarist Jimmy Page, 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 involved in, Later that year, The Yardbirds disbanded, leaving Page o complete some previously booked Yardbirds dates in Scandinavia. Jones, at the suggestion of his wife, enquired to Page about joining him on the tour, and Jones accepted.

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 soon became known as Led Zeppelin.

In less than a dozen years, Jones, as a member of Zeppelin, made one movie, recorded nine full-length albums and completed close to 30 extensive tours.

The cultural impact of Led Zeppelin, both artistically and musically, is unquestioned. Jim Miller, editor of Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, has said "On one level, Led Zeppelin represents the final flowering of the sixties' psychedelic ethic, which casts rock as passive sensory involvement."

Since Led Zeppelin dissolved in 1980 with the death of Bonham, Jones has collaborated with a number of artists, including R.E.M., Jars of Clay, 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.  Jones set up his own recording studio called Sunday School, as well being involved in his daughter's (Jacinda Jones) singing career. He also recorded a solo debut album, Zooma.

During the 2000s he kept busy in both studio and live settings - producing many other artists. He also participated in the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion show at O2 Arena, and in 2009 began playing with Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) in the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. The band released its debut album later that year.


For more about John Paul Jones, visit his Website at -


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