Monday, December 10, 2001

John Paul Jones on his management, record label (interview part 22 of 22)

This is the final part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: What different managers have you had since 1980?

I just had two. I had nobody for a while. I had Peter [Grant] for a while, but I didn’t see much of him, and he turned out to be in sort of a strange period at that time. So I got managed in the mid ’80s with Brian Eno’s management, which was Opal Entertainment. Then around the beginning of the ’90s, they kind of wound down, so I got Opium. …Great eccentrics and wonderful people in the English music scene.

What drew you to Discipline Global Mobile? That’s tough to say [to pronounce].

It is, it is. I just really like the ethic. I kind of wondered whether I should go to a major [label] and just didn’t… was disheartened with the whole music scene, which was one of the reasons I really didn’t want to … "Where’s the singer? Where’s the singer?" And we were looking for an outlet really, and [manager] Richard [Chadwick] just said to me, "I just found this label, Discipline. It’s a strange one but strange ideas." And I read all about it, and I thought, "It’s a great one!" The artists have their own work? It’s indefensible that they don’t own their work? I liked it. And they had really good distribution to small key distributors who like the music, and all. And I thought, "This is the place for me!" OK, so you don’t get the big contract. There’s no price to pay working with … But you gotta do the work and you don’t get, you know, there’s no big advances. You have to do a lot of stuff yourself, but you do what you like. Make all the records you like. So I just like that style of approach for it. This is for me.

What influence has Robert Fripp had on you musically?

Probably only his commitment, I suppose.

Two other portions of the interview not included in these 22 transcript segments include:

John Paul Jones explains trend of including bonus tracks on some international CDs (interview part 21 of 22)

This is the 21st part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: How about some of the stuff that you did, like with "Easy," with Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, that you recorded last year [in 2000].

Oh, for the Sun Records thing.

Yeah. Whatever happened with that?

Not a clue.

It’s just, you’re gonna be on, you’re gonna be on, [clap] you’re not on?

Yeah. Yeah, and it was good too, but, you know…

"I Ain’t Got the Blues," that you recorded for The Thunderthief?

I didn’t think it was good enough.

No? Might it come out?

No. I don’t think. The song was good, but [I] didn’t like the performance as much. If it doesn’t get past me, it doesn’t get on the record. [laughing]

How about "Fanfare for the Millennium"? It came out on the Japanese edition of Zooma.

That’s right, yes.

But we didn’t get it over here.

Yeah, well… See, the Japanese thing is very strange because I think it’s to do… I think it’s the fact that if everything’s released at the same time everywhere, by the time it gets to Japan – because of their distribution or whatever, just the sheer distances – it arrives in Japan like weeks after it’s released everywhere else. So then everybody who orders it in Japan, it’s actually cheaper if you get the money for it, they buy the imports. In order to stop this, the Japanese record companies will not release it unless they get A.) either an extra track or B.) have it early. And what happened on The Thunderthief is that we had it set up… This particular record I both recorded and mixed, so I did everything, and I just ran past the deadline, and they’d done all the work on the promotion and everything in Japan. Of course it was gonna come up early anyway, and then I missed the deadline for that... So we said release it now or we’ll never hear from them again, because they simply won’t stop it short. That’s what happens. You know, when all the Christmas stuff comes ... then you get completely swamped. So I said, "Well, we know…" We couldn’t stop the Japan record, the Japanese release, because they’d done all the work. We couldn’t say, "Sorry, guys, stop and do it again." Now, if I were Prince or Michael Jackson, I could do it, but I’m not. [laughing] So what happened is…

But to me, you’re better than them.

Thank you. So what happened is this got put forward until after Christmas, you know, in February, where in Japan it had been released already. [laughing] I guess you just have to live with it. But "Fanfare for the Millennium" I really liked! I thought it was a great piece.

Were there other ones that you recorded for Zooma that didn’t come out?


John Paul Jones explains his inspiration to sing, write lyrics (interview part 20 of 22)

This is the 20th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: What made you want to include vocals on The Thunderthief, the album?

Well, as you probably know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want a person on lead vocals, all of it. And I didn’t want to rewrite Zooma. I had this idea that instead of having the riffs as the melody, which was …, I thought I would have the riff and the melody on top. … Then I suddenly thought, "I’m missing…" I really wanted the sound of the voice. I even made the sound of the voice in "Grind" on Zooma, just sampled, because I like the sound of it. So I thought as if I was cheating myself, not using the voice. I still believed I didn’t want a guest singer because suddenly the singer … It’s like walking a dog. All of a sudden, he becomes the producer and I’d end up … So I thought, I can do it. [laughing] So in fact, Peter Blegvad came to me, the singer-songwriter who also did the artwork. And he also handed me lyrics that he hadn’t set to music. And he gave me two, one called "The Thunderthief" and one called "Ice Fishing at Night." And I put them to music and just tried to experiment to sing on them, and if I liked it, I’d put it on. And I thought it was OK. ... And I thought, "I’ve tried singing, now I’ll try lyric writing!" [laughs] So I tried it, and it was great fun! Got the word processor going, and "Ah, this isn’t so bad!" You look up, and you’ve written three verses. "Oh, OK, that’s all right!" ...

John Paul Jones song title derived from Apple sound (interview part 19 of 22)

This is the 19th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: I was gonna say, "Nosumi Blues" – am I pronouncing that right, "No SUE me?"


OK. What’s that title mean?

It’s just a laugh, isn’t it? The idea came –

Don’t sue me?

No! You can’t sue me! It’s… Apple had a sound. Do you know much about Apple computers?


Well, anyway, it’s a long story. I love these long, winding stories.

Go ahead.

What actually happened was that Apple, when they first were called Apple, came up against the Beatles’ publishing company, and the Beatles said they could use the name Apple provided that they made no music at all. [laughing] OK, so, I mean… that’s kind of ridiculous. Apples don’t have MIDI, which is one of the most frustrating things to musicians.

That’s why!

Yeah, I know. I said… [Screaming:] I cannot even begin to tell you, I cannot even come close, still I am up against the fact that Apple doesn’t have any proper MIDI drivers. And it just drives me mad that it wastes months of studio time sorting this out and that out, this isn’t compatible with that, that doesn’t work, this doesn’t work, time is running out, furious about that! So Apple came out with an alert, what it was was a simple [sings:] "Bonnnng." And it was only used as an alert, and they called it "Sosumi."

[Laughing] Yeah.

S-O-S-U-M-I. And I just remembered it when I was looking for a title for the blues, and I said this isn’t really a blues. It’s come from nowhere except in the blues tradition. So I called it "Nosumi Blues." [Laughing] I don’t know how many people got it, but I didn’t care. I liked it. [Laughing]

I’d always wondered about that. Now how about "Shibuya Bop"?

"Shibuya Bop." That’s much more prosaic. I just, I was walking around Shibuya [in Tokyo] on the last tour, and it just… I heard this techno track around the doorway, and I thought, "Geez, what was that?" And all these people around were just … the intensity of it, a really intense track… and so that’s where that came from. [laughing]

John Paul Jones discusses his theater, cultural work in Spain (interview part 18 of 22)

This is the 18th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: You did some stuff [in Spain] in about ’89-’91. What was that all about?

It was a Catalon theatre group called La Fura Dels Baus, and basically they were debuting this strange, strange show. … It was all deeply conceptual. It was not like our chaos, but it has some similarities. But anyway, they had musicians along with the show, and they based the show on the music. They actually came in and made some fantastic flamenco music as well. And I produced the album. ...

And you coordinated a whole cultural expo show in Seville?

Oh, yes, the Memory Palace, that was produced, but that was different.

That was the next year or two [1991 and 1992].


It was a government-organized cultural affair.

That’s right. We had four sets of composers. I had two Spanish sets of composers, an American set – Tom and Andy – and I did … for the English side, and I coordinated and produced the whole hour. We spent two months… And it was great! A huge quadraphonic system set up and … "Ah, yeah, we should mix like this." It’s a great sound! Imagine a sort of deep, lone, computer-generated … and songs [inaudible].

How’d you get that gig?

That was through having worked with La Fura. ...

John Paul Jones on his daughter Jacinda's music (interview part 17 of 22)

This is the 17th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Your daughter, Jacinda Jones. You produced an album for her?

Didn't get it released. Well, it was at a time, one of those cyclical times when everyone gets dropped from their labels, and basically we couldn't get any interested in it. But it was a good record.

Do you still have it?

Yeah! We taped it. Then she got into production. Animation production. She's a really good organizer, really good with people. She takes… she has a director and takes them round to festivals [laughing] and gets to work. She loves it.

Has she stopped singing?


You should just release that as a box set though, something like that. All those Zeppelin box sets that have come out, nothing new. We should have a Jacinda Jones box set, the unreleased tracks.

Really. [laughing]

John Paul Jones explains Led Zeppelin's tense relationship with the media (interview part 16 of 22)

This is the 16th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: In 1979, Melody Maker's readers' choice awards, you were there wearing a button on your lapel with the message, "Rock Against Journalism."

Oh, right! I remember that button.

What’s that mean?

Just what it says!

Is that something against me?

No, well, you're not a journalist, you said. [Laughs]

Not yet. So far.

I was just joking. It was an affectation at the time. There was a great turn-out at the Melody Maker. That’s kind of what we… They all hated or seemed to hate us in the beginning. And I think they were kind of annoyed because our reputation really grew by word of mouth and people coming to the shows. And they kind of dismissed us earlier on. And by the time they caught up, we were big and famous, but they really hadn't much to do with it. I can remember when we first came to America and read that ... Rolling Stone review. And we just couldn't understand, what had we done to those guys? Because "This band's hyped." Well, what do you mean "hyped"? In what way? Oh, you mean hyped by people like [pointing to Steve Sauer as a fan] you? Not the media. I mean, we [the band] didn't do any hype. We just made an honest, good record, so we thought, and we were coming here to perform it. And they say, "Aw," this and that and this. …

I remember going to New York. I'm sitting with a friend having dinner. … And suddenly I hear this thing, "If you want get ripped off, go to Madison Square Garden tonight and go and see Led Slime." [Astonished:] What did he mean? "Get ripped off"? We did good shows! "Go see Led Slime. OK, if you want to call up…" And I thought, ah! I wanna call. It's a talk show! Right, get me on the phone, quick! They said, "Hello?" I said, "Yeah, I want to talk about Led Slime." "OK. Who are you?" I said, "John Paul Jones." And they just went [makes a clicking noise]. [Laughs]

"Yeah, sure you are!" [Laughs]

No, he knew.


He knew because he was a journalist. He knew who I was, and as soon as he heard, he went, "Oh, [click] OK. Next call." 'Cause I was gonna give him, "What the f*** are you talking about, Led Slime?" I mean, we were fiercely defensive of the band, because we knew we were good, we knew what would happen, and we wanted people … just … dissonance. … I was gonna call him out, but then, werrrrnt! Said I must confirm quick!

"Rock Against Journalism." Is there anyway I could get a pin?

[Laughs] I've probably still got mine somewhere. I just saw it and said, "That's really appropriate." So that's how we viewed the press at the time. To be honest, it was a generalization. There were good people who appeared and wrote correct things. But the initial reaction just seemed to be so hostile. You read it and think, "You don't mean us. Do they really mean us? It's us!" People just spread venomous things. One of the bands that was in Bath. I remember reading that they were an honest band or "I saw cases and cases of new Fender guitars and amplifiers, they were hyped by the record and instrument industries," and everything, and I thought, "You assholes. Our one bloody Fender, which I bought new, my dad had guaranteed for it… And of course when people write stuff, it becomes fact, because nobody… I mean you wouldn't… Why would I bother to write… "Well, won't these guys ever improve, because…?" You know. But it just becomes fact. I mean, it's, what the hell. Don't get mixed up in it. [Laughs]

John Paul Jones on plagiarism: 'People were suing us that I'd never even heard of' (interview part 15 of 22)

This is the 15th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: When you were recording "Dazed and Confused," did you know that it previously existed in songs?

JPJ: Yeah. The Yardbirds did it.

SPS: And also Jake Holmes.

JPJ: I didn't know that then. I knew it was a Yardbirds number. But basically, we didn't have many songs, but we had to do some shows. So Page came in with a bunch of Yardbirds [songs].

SPS: When did you become aware of the Jake Holmes version?

JPJ: Much later.

SPS: I’m not gonna grill you about that.

JPJ: You can! You can. I didn't … People were suing us that I'd never even heard of. [laughs] A name would come in -- "Who's this?" "Oh, really, great!"

SPS: Long after Led Zeppelin?

JPJ: No, not long after. Well, I mean, during the lifetime of Led Zeppelin.

John Paul Jones never felt left out during Zeppelin days (interview part 14 of 22)

This is the 14th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Back to Led Zeppelin for a moment. Was it ever polarized or split up between "Page and Plant" and "you and Bonham"?

No. The only time it was ever polarized was very early, and then it "Page and Grant" and the three of us, because they had toured before, and sometimes they were in different hotels! And Bonham, Plant and myself -- we shared rooms. Big rooms, but you know, they were rooms. So that was the initial polarization.

I also read or heard that you…

I mean they did go off… there was a point where Bonham and I went home and they [Page and Plant] carried on touring as it were. [Laughing]

They went to Morocco and all?

That’s right. So, in that respect. It wasn't a polarization within the group. It was only kind of when they… Things like "Stairway to Heaven" were written like that 'cause they… Robert had a cottage in Wales, and the two of them stayed up there. So there wasn't. Not in the group. ... It was a very tight group.

John Paul Jones defines 'progressive' rock (interview part 13 of 22)

This is the 13th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: It was actually about two years ago, October '99, you played in Philadelphia. During that live version of "Snake Eyes," I said, "Man, that is definitely some King Crimson influence right there."

Oh really?

Yeah, just the way that it's so progressive and things like that. The instrumentation…

Well, we always used to think that Zeppelin was a progressive rock band until it became [laughing] a slightly dirty word. Well, we thought we played progressive rock. People asked, "What sort of band are you?" I said I had played progressively – progressive rock – thinking that it just meant forward-thinking as opposed to anything [inaudible, laughing]. But you're right, "Snake Eyes" was, oops. "Snake Eyes" was in its truest sense progressive rock. ... [laughing] And again, my only record on that label…

I love trying to figure out how to play "Snake Eyes." I have perfect pitch, so things sort of come naturally, but I mean, when it's that discordant, it's tough.

Yeah, it’s tough.

I once figured it out, but I've since forgotten. Sort of like, "What's Jimmy's symbol mean?" "I used to know."

Who knows? I don't think anybody knows.

John Paul Jones on his Mellotron and Fairlight keyboards (interview part 12 of 22)

This is the 12th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Back to the instruments for a second. You always complained about the Mellotron. I always hear, "Oh, that Mellotron." [laughs]

I mean, it sounded great when it worked.

You used it every year from ’72 to ’77.

But I had no choice! I had no choice!

There wasn’t much else out?

There was nothing else! Nothing else! No string machines and… It was the only thing you could get that had strings and flutes on it. When we used to start "The Rain Song," I had one foot on the volume control and one had like a tuning control. So I used to have to come in [quickly hums the guitar intro] just at the start of the guitar, and I’d play [imitates the Mellotron] and I’d try and tune it [makes a tuning noise] before it got too loud. Oh, awful. ’Cause you’d set it up and tune it, and then the crowd would come in. Basically, their heat would make the tapes stretch, and so you simply didn’t know what it would be. We hated each other.

You and the Mellotron?

But it was great. As I said, once you got going it was fine, but at that first intro… [People would say to me,] "Oh, the Moody Blues can do it." Because it could work for them. He was constantly rebuilding his Mellotron [inaudible]. He was a Mellotron technician and was constantly rebuilding it [inaudible]. Oh, it was hell. And the day that I managed to replace it, I did, and that was the GX-1. ...

Then you sold that to Keith Emerson, right?

Yeah, while it was getting big in the United States. I wasn’t really using it. I’d already replaced that, ’cause that was huge. It had to weigh a quarter of a ton. I think I had a roadie who used to live in the flying case, it was that big. And I replaced that with the Fairlight. I used that on one tour. I was one of the few people ever to use a Fairlight on the road.

There's a historical footnote.

Yeah, that was 1980 on the European tour.

John Paul Jones on all the keyboard instruments he plays (interview part 11 of 22)

This is the 11th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: You never toured with keyboards until ’70. Then it was Hammond organ until ’71. Rhodes piano. And then in ’71 you added the mellotron. Clavinet and Steinway grand in ’75. Then, finally, the Yamaha synthesizers after that. So you’re constantly expanding your role on the keyboards... Was that your idea?

Well, yeah, I mean. As I said, the very first album was mainly and inherently Yardbirds.

That’s with "Your Time is Gonna Come." That’s my favorite -- I’m a keyboard player.

That’s right. All right.

Whenever I sit down...

Oh, yeah! You’re the chap that plays the organ. Did you write me on my site?

Yeah, pretty early on.

I thought I recognized... Yeah, basically, you can’t do everything at once. I was doing some keyboards in the very early rehearsals. ... Were there keyboards on the first album?

Yeah, "Your Time is Gonna Come."

Oh. That’s on the first album, right?


Right, OK. You have to excuse me. ...

...And "You Shook Me" is.

All right, OK, so I was already playing Hammond organ. But taking it on tour, you’ve got the logistics of it: hiring the instrument and all that. ...

But sometimes if you were playing a city hall or something there would be something there for you to play.

Well, no, we had to rent it in or we’d have to [inaudible]. And so, yeah, I mean, I played a lot of keyboards. And once you play one keyboard, you can play a lot. I don’t actually play a lot of instruments. I just play a lot of families. ...

People ask me what all I play, I’m like, "Oh, piano, organ, accordion..."

"Harpsichord, clavichord..."

"...Synthesizers! Keyboards!"

Yeah, exactly. It’s very impressive to people who don’t know.

"Wow, that’s like 12 different things!"

There are subtle differences. I mean, I consider myself an organ player as well as pianist. ...

John Paul Jones recalls that John Bonham hated hotels, flying (interview part 10 of 22)

This is the 10th part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: If you could talk to me about John Bonham as a family man, as a traveling companion, as a friend, what was he like?

Well, he was tremendous fun. I mean, apart from being … I mean, actually, tremendous fun! Very funny man. Great sense of humor. He didn’t actually like being on the road. He hated traveling. He hated flying! [Laughing] He had actually got to the airport and ordered the driver to turn down occasionally. We used to really have to trick him onto airplanes at times. Great affection, very generous. Yeah, he used to get a bit wild, but it was mainly because he hated being on the road. He loved playing, but the rest of it… Hotels, he hated hotels. It’s just a shame. But no, he was a lovely man. As a drummer, he’s just very delighting.

Was it ever tough on you playing shows that go on three hours long, like in ’77?

No, no. If you’re playing, it’s great!

Night after night, it never would wear on you?

No! No! It was the sort of band that was always interesting on stage. We were always changing, and we could do this and we could do a bit more of it or a bit less of it… You could always work off the crowd a lot.

John Paul Jones wanting to leave Led Zeppelin to become a choirmaster? Well ... (interview part 9 of 22)

This is the ninth part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Winchester Cathedral. I read that you wanted to be choirmaster there.

JPJ: It was a joke. Somebody said, "Do you like being on the road?" I said, "No, I'm… I'm…" You know. "I'm gonna… I saw this advert for a job for the organist out by the cathedral. I'm gonna bide for that. I'm gonna take that. I'm gonna apply for that." It was one of those things.

SPS: When that was supposed to happen coincided with that month that you took off from Led Zeppelin. It was December 1973. Is that a fabricated lie too? …Where you wanted to…?

JPJ: There was a point, yes, where I think I'd got fed up with it all, 'cause we were touring [a lot] and really working hard and I'd had enough of it for a while. And I wasn't going to get another job. [Laughing] I wouldn’t call [that] a job! 'Cause a cathedral organist, that was what I wanted to be when I was 16. I was too young to go to college so I went on the road instead.

SPS: So I guess if that stuff's not true, that you wanted to leave to be a choirmaster and all that…

JPJ: Should we be debunking all of this?

SPS: Yeah!

JPJ: …Because isn't that part of our whole thing? I mean, you don't really want to tell people… Wouldn't they rather believe that I left to be a choirmaster in Westminster?

SPS: There's a phrase that we have 'cause of the show The X Files, "The truth is out there." I think that…

JPJ: Oh, all right. Do you want to know the truth? If the truth was in here, there wouldn’t be more X files!

SPS: [Laughing] Yeah, true.

JPJ: [Laughing]

SPS: OK, I'll… I'll debate about whether I’m gonna…


SPS: You played on an album by Jobriath. Am I pronouncing that right (joe BRY uth)?

JPJ: Yeah.

SPS: Do you know if that was his first or second album?

JPJ: Oh, I don't know.

SPS: And was it Eddie Kramer that got you involved in that?

JPJ: [Silence]

SPS: He was producing the album.

JPJ: Was he? Oh, Eddie was… Yes. Probably. ...

SPS: And Madeline Bell, you played on her album around that same time.

JPJ: I produced it.

SPS: I just wrote about that a couple of days ago. All this stuff was happening in December 1973, so it was a couple of days ago that I was writing about this for the mailing list.

JPJ: Oh, OK. I see. Yeah, she'd been a family friend forever.

SPS: She's the godmother of the children?

JPJ: That's right.

SPS: How's she doing then?

JPJ: She's great. She lives in Spain now.

John Paul Jones clears up the 'drag queen' story (interview part 8 of 22)

This is the eighth part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: In 1973, you fractured your ribs on tour?

JPJ: I think I actually did it in England and didn’t realize it. It was kind of like on the cusp as it were. I think I like coughed or something like that in a hotel room, and something goes, "Wah!" Really, really [inaudible], and I thought, "Cor, ah, you know!" So it turned out that I'd fractured them. The doctor fired up an X-ray and then put me onstage. "OK, that's no excuse. You've still got arms and legs, and your head's all right. You're doing all right. Play!"

SPS: There's a show in Dallas, I think it was May 18, 1973, and Robert's saying how you're standing up there playing, "He might not be able to finish the whole gig."

JPJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they're always saying these things to each other all the time. Four old blokes have a sit-down and say, "[inaudible]," really, it was that sort of band ... That's what made it work. Nobody could have an attitude for longer than about five minutes. [laughs] Yeah, I sat down for the show. I was all right if I didn't laugh.

SPS: I think he might have been trying to make you laugh though. He said something like, "We thought he'd got the clap!"

JPJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He was, well, you know… [gets up and walks across the room for a bottle of water] As I said, that’s how it was. We all laughed at each other.

SPS: Now the city you actually played right before that one was New Orleans 1973. You had a huge reception with… I think Lisa Robinson was there, you had Ernie K. Doe, Professor Longhair …

JPJ: Oh, right, I remember that one.

SPS: … all the great New Orleans jazz musicians. Do you remember anything else –

JPJ: [pours water from the bottle into two cups]

SPS: Thanks. Do you remember anything else about that particular city that particular year?

JPJ: Well, maybe. You'll probably have to remind me …

SPS: Oh, maybe a song named after the Royal Orleans hotel …

JPJ: Oh, that was Robert in his usual homophobic manner. I don't know what … You see, the only trouble with that book [Hammer of the Gods by Stephen Davis], that stupid book was that it got all its facts wrong. It got all the stories the wrong way around. Part of that, it wasn’t funny. I mean, some of the stories were actually hilarious, but the way the book reads is, "What a bunch of miserable bastards we are!" But no, I mean, everybody knew who those people were. They were friends of Richard [Cole]'s. And yes, we knew they were transvestites. We were friends. Her name was … Her name was … Stephanie! We'd see her every time we'd go to New Orleans. But Robert was a bit provincial. They weren't like big city boys. They don't like all that sort of thing. Richard and Jimmy and I … They were friends of the band, for God's sake, you know. And then this idiot, Steve Davis, gets it all mixed up. I mean, OK, so we were in our room, drinking, and probably fell asleep, and I [clears his throat] found the room full of firemen!

SPS: Yadda, yadda, yadda.

JPJ: All that stuff that he didn't know, it was like, "Oh, come on…" But in fact, there was another member of the band who found himself in situations where they didn't know it was a boy, and it certainly wasn't me.

SPS: [inquisitively] Ah! [laughs] You don't want to elaborate on that?

JPJ: No, I don't. So it's all … And then he writes a song about it! You know, thank you so much, Robert. He was a bit homophobic in those days. I think it's just 'cause they had a sheltered upbringing as lads.

SPS: I know Jimmy did, living on a farm. He had this huge manor and just basically stayed by himself …

JPJ: He certainly didn't have an –

SPS: … an only child.

JPJ: Well, I'm an only child and didn't have a sheltered upbringing. Not in the slightest!

John Paul Jones insists Phil Carson never filled in for him (interview part 7 of 22)

This is the seventh part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Your relationship with Phil Carson. Did he actually fill in for you in Japan in about 1971?

JPJ: Fill in? [Laughs] No. He used to get him onstage. He was a bass player and used to play with Dusty Springfield. I mean, just for a laugh, on the encore. I think we used to do "Rock and Roll" as an encore or, maybe, or …

SPS: "Summertime Blues."

JPJ: Oh, right. So I used to go on piano and go, "Come on, Phil. Come play the bass." That was it. And he would love it! He would go, "Oh, all right, man." He could go… We knew he'd pretend to play well. He could just [repeats a single note on the bass, then another note], and it was just great! It was a laugh.

SPS: There was rumor – I guess it was proven to be incorrect – that you had taken some dates off in Japan. You were sick or something like that and that he filled in for you. But I'm like, "Wait, 'The Song Remains the Same'…"?

JPJ: No, you see, this … Exactly, this stuff becomes fact. Nobody thinks about, "Can this be true?" As you said, it came to be obviously rubbish!

SPS: Right. Now that we have almost every single concert out there [on bootleg audio], we listen and we go, "No, that can't be Phil Carson. [Laughs] That's freakin' Jonesy."

JPJ: Yeah. I don't think so, no. [Laughs] No! But you'll hear him right at the end on, as you say – what was that song again?

SPS: "Summertime Blues."

JPJ: "Summertime Blues."

John Paul Jones blames the Beatles for killing instrumental music (interview part 6 of 22)

This is the sixth part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: You mentioned the Beatles when you were talking about the Tea Party shows in Boston. How much credit do you give the Beatles for today’s music, and I guess I’m saying strictly the Beatles as opposed to any other British groups.

JPJ: The Beatles really opened up with Revolver, I think, they opened up a whole idea of using the studio as an instrument and everybody playing it. My personal beef with the Beatles is that they also killed instrumental music [laughing] forever, from the first song. 'Cause there was lots of instrumental music in England, like … Lots of instrumental bands. Beatles came along. [Claps once] No more instrumental music. It’s all vocals from then on. And so, but yeah, I mean, they just. I suppose at first, we just thought, "Oh, all right, you know, it's a good, tight band, as any band would be." … And we thought, "OK, tight band. They write good songs, but…" And then they started doing that stuff in the studio, and I thought, "Now this is changing the face of music of pop music, it really is." And everybody followed them: the Beach Boys ... Just opening up the potential of the studio and doing stuff that wasn’t considered rock 'n' roll … It was just great, great stuff.

Hells Angels, helicopter transported John Paul Jones to Bath Festival in 1970 (interview part 5 of 22)

This is the fifth part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Let me take you to the Bath Festival, June 28, 1970. You were almost late because you were out with the Hells Angels and Julie Felix.

JPJ: We couldn't get there! To be honest, we couldn't get there. I think Peter Grant spent nine hours in a car getting down there, and it was looking like … the report would come back with the [place?] … you couldn't get near the festival. So I had an idea. I rented a helicopter. [inaudible] We all lived up in that area in [Hartfordshire?]. And so at Denham Airport, 10 minutes away, I called him up. I looked in the yellow pages. "Can you get a helicopter?" It was like some decently cheap price too – cheaper than a hired car, for some reason. We got in there, and then they said, "The problem will be landing." 'Cause I think for every thousand feet you have to be a thousand feet away. I said something, and they said, "Don't worry, we'll fix you a transport when we get there." So we ended up, we landed in a field [inaudible]. There's nobody about. [inaudible] But suddenly all these bikes just rolled up, just the helicopter just taking around, going, "Oh, wait a minute," you know. And all these Hells Angels appeared in the field on their bikes, and said, "We're your transport." And so it's just like, we got on the back of a bike and just rolled straight through to the stage. It's a great entrance, I have to say. I was carrying a mandolin. I had a cowboy hat on. [laughs] Peter Fonda.

SPS: And they gave you a leather jacket as a souvenir?

JPJ: No, I had this silly... I remember the jacket. It was this silly shiny thing with picks and tapes, real hippie stuff, it was great.

John Paul Jones on touring with Led Zeppelin (interview part 4 of 22)

This is the fourth part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Were you ever ... dissatisfied with any [Led Zeppelin] performances?

Yeah, there’s a time or two that you could have done better or something breaks down, "Why did that break down there?" There was never a band that had … I guess some bands had some, like, "post mortems" and they’re all sitting down and going, "Well, you know, that note, that lead-in to that…" It was just get on, do it, get off, and just have fun. You know? It was a very enjoyable band to actually make music in. And that was our sole purpose, pretty much. It was just like, do the best job, be very professional about it, and just have fun.

What’s the most memorable, like one experience or most humorous?

Boston Tea Party, where we played four and a quarter hours on an hour-and-a-half act. We really had material for an hour and a half, but we played it twice I think, and then it was just like any Beatles songs anybody knew more than four bars of, or Everly Brothers songs we played, Elvis Presley songs we played. And at the end Peter called all of us out and I think he lifted all four of us off the ground. [Laughing] Some really neat experiences, and they’re all shows. ... Whisky-A-Go-Go we played when everyone was sick. Traveling to the States, we got the flu.

And you played those shows [Jan. 2-5, 1969] with Alice Cooper.

Did we?


All right!

He was just on the radio a few months back, and he said something to the effect of, "Yeah, I was on the bill with Led Zeppelin." "Well, who was the opening act?" He said, "Well, basically we got there and just said, ‘You be it tonight, I’ll be it tomorrow night.’"

Quite likely, that’s how it was done. … I think later [and earlier, December 1968] we opened for the Vanilla Fudge for a while. That was great.

John Paul Jones on the formation of Led Zeppelin (interview part 3 of 22)

This is the third part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Before the Yardbirds broke up, Page said that he wanted to form a new band with a singer who could double on the mellotron.

JPJ: Page?

SPS: Yeah. That was something published in the Melody Maker. So I was gonna ask if you ever discussed that.

JPJ: A singer doubling on mellotron? No.

SPS: How about Terry Reid?

JPJ: I hear it a lot he was the original choice, and in fact Terry Reid was the one who suggested Robert.

SPS: Were you familiar with Terry Reid’s work before? "Bang Bang"…

JPJ: Oh yeah!

SPS: How do you think that would have turned out?

JPJ: It would have been different. ...

SPS: Were you involved in the selection process of Robert Plant and John Bonham?

JPJ: Well, Terry, as I said, Terry Reid had … What happened was … At around the time that Page was … I think he may have asked Terry Reid and then kind of like, at the same time, I called him up because Mo, my wife, had seen an article in Disc, which said that Jimmy Page was forming a band. Then she said, "Give him a call." And I said, "No, I've got too many sessions, too much work." She could tell I was beginning to burn out on session work. She said, "Give him a call, see what that's all about." So I called him up, and he was that day or the next day going up to Birmingham to see … 'Cause he said, "We've asked Terry Reid." I said, "Who've you got?" He said, "Well, I've asked Terry Reid, and he's declined and that he's recommended a singer, and he thinks the singer might know a drummer. I'm going up to Birmingham tonight and see what they're like, and I'll come back, and I'll tell you what they were like." And so he came back, and he was raving about them. He said, "The singer is fantastic. The drummer is a bit more difficult. He'd been making 40 quid a week touring with Tim Rose, so we'd have to guarantee to pay him more."

SPS: What was Led Zeppelin called before it was called Led Zeppelin?

JPJ: It was going to be Led Zeppelin, but we had to go out as the new Yardbirds because Page had some dates that the Yardbirds had committed to before they'd broken up. So he still had some dates in Scandinavia, I think. So we had to go out as the new Yardbirds because they wouldn’t accept… the promoter ...

SPS: And then, finally, between calling yourselves the Yardbirds or the "new" Yardbirds, what was that like deciding, "We’re gonna be Led Zeppelin"?

JPJ: Well, it's just – the name came originally – well, originally originally, it came originally from [the Who’s John] Entwistle. But the name of the band the first time I heard was at the session for "Beck's Bolero," wherein there was Keith Moon, Jeff [Beck], Jimmy, Nicky Hopkins and myself. And we had a lot of fun in the session, and somebody suggested we should take this on the road. And I think Moon said something like "It would go down like a lead zeppelin" or something like that. But I didn’t think it was such a good name at first. It shows you how wrong I was!

SPS: It could easily be misspelled. Was that Jimmy’s idea to make it L-E-D?

JPJ: No, that was Peter.

SPS: There are people who spell "Zeppelin" wrong. I mean, that's been the airship for years.

JPJ: That's right.

SPS: Somebody ought to know. I just got a letter the other day in my e-mail the other day, saying, "No, it's not Zeppelin, it's Z-E-P-P-L-I-N."

JPJ: No.

SPS: They were so authoritative. They couldn’t even spell anything else right in that e-mail, so I threw that right out.

John Paul Jones denies playing on any Yardbirds studio tracks (interview part 2 of 22)

This is the second part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: When you were – I was gonna say "with the Yardbirds." Did you consider yourself to be with the Yardbirds?

JPJ: No, I was never with the Yardbirds. I did some arrangements for the Little Games album. That's the only thing I had to do with anything.

SPS: What about playing bass on like all their later A-sides?

JPJ: I never played the bass on their A-sides. Where'd you hear that from?

SPS: A couple books. One a book on the Yardbirds by Greg Russo, a guy from New Jersey.

JPJ: No, I never played the bass for the Yardbirds on record.

SPS: So it was all Chris Dreja then?

JPJ: Yeah.

SPS: Wow. That answers some of my other questions.

JPJ: Page played bass for the Yardbirds.

SPS: When he first started out with them.

JPJ: Yes.

SPS: One of the things I couldn't understand is, he'd always been playing the guitar and stuff like that, doing his session work. And then he gets out of the session work, immediately switches to bass.

JPJ: I think he joined the Yardbirds and -- I don't know what the story was, but he played bass because there was a bass player at the time leaving.

SPS: That's something you can just pick up having played guitar?

JPJ: No, it's sort of similar, but [inaudible].

SPS: I know Chris Dreja had played the rhythm guitar for like three or four years with them, and it took him a while to switch to bass.

JPJ: On a certain level, they're interchangeable, but… [trails off]

John Paul Jones speaks about his early days (interview part 1 of 22)

This is the first part of the transcript of my interview with John Paul Jones, conducted Dec. 10, 2001.

SPS: Your original name, was it John Paul Baldwin?

JPJ: No. Just John Baldwin. No middle name. It’s not common in England, middle names.

SPS: I have a brother, John Paul Sauer.

JPJ: Oh, right? There’s a lot more John Pauls these days, especially in Ireland, after the pope.

SPS: When did you change your name?

JPJ: I'd forgotten, to be honest, until I read the Andrew Oldham book. Andrew Loog Oldham – and he reminded me in there that in fact he thought of the name. [inaudible] movie poster for John Paul Jones the American. So, working that back, it would have been 1964.

SPS: So, after – I guess it started out when you started playing at those American naval bases over in England?

JPJ: No, I had done all that. I was John Baldwin. It was really when I became an arranger for Andrew Oldham. That was its purpose. And also I had a single out at the same time. Oh, that’s right! He produced it. He produced my first single. And that came out under John Paul Jones.

SPS: Now, I know that you were a session musician. Why was it that you put out the "Baja" single?

JPJ: I wasn't a session musician before "Baja." I was just, just breaking into it, which means like maybe a couple of sessions a week as opposed to when I left it about three sessions a day.

SPS: So we're talking about something like 30 years ago you were looking at solo stardom!

JPJ: Yeah. Well, I'd been in a band. I'd had enough of the road.

SPS: The guys from the Tornados?

JPJ: No, it was the guys from the Shadows, Jet Harris and Tony Meehan. ... And we were playing for like 200-500 people a night. ...

SPS: Backtracking a little bit, there was something I wanted to know about your dad and your mom. They toured together on some sort of an act?

JPJ: That's right. They had what you'd call a vaudeville act.

SPS: What was that basically?

JPJ: Musical comedy. It was actually based around -- she was the singer, and she had a really incompetent accompanist or willfully difficult accompanist. He’d start playing, he’d do like long introductions. [Singing:] "Oh, sweet mystery of love…" And then a bell would ring. He goes to the piano, he’d pull out an alarm clock, and the audience gags. So she’d never really get through a song.

SPS: How old do you think you were? I read that you'd toured with them.

JPJ: That's right.

SPS: Was that even before your teens?

JPJ: Oh yeah. That's probably right. ...

SPS: Your dad then played for the Ambrose Orchestra. Were you along with him on there?

JPJ: No, that was before.

SPS: I've always wondered the date that you were married.

JPJ: The date that I was married? I don't know if she'd necessarily want it printed, to be honest.

SPS: There goes out the next question. I was gonna ask when your three daughters were born.

JPJ: Yeah. Information like that…

SPS: And your social security number?

JPJ: [Laughs]