Monday, December 10, 2001

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!

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