John Paul Jones Biography
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
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
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 & Tony Meehan and played bass for their band for two years,
during which time they scored a Number 1 hit with "Diamonds". 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.
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 I), 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" (Four Symbols). After "retiring" his
Fender Jazz bass in 1975, Jones switched to using custom designed Alembics. 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, and the eastern scales of "Kashmir"
(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.
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 REM, 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 Gal? 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.
Led Zeppelin Lyrics