Monday, December 10, 2001

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.

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