Monday, December 10, 2001

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]

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