John Paul Jones, born John Baldwin, was born on January 3, 1946 in Sidcup, Kent, England to Joe Baldwin, a pianist and arranger for 40s and 50s bands.Jones was sent to boarding school at a young age and attended Christ's College whre he studied msic. At fourteen years old, Jones became a choirmaster and organist at a church. The same year, he bought his first bass guitar - a Dallas solid body electric. He bought a Fender Jazz Bass in 1962 which he used until 1976.
Jones was influenced by the blues of Big Bill Broonzy, the jazz of Charles Mingus, and the classical piano of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Jones has said that his inspiration of taking up the bass was the Chicago musician Phil Upchurch on his You Can't Sit Down LP.At age fifteen, Jones joined his first band, The Deltas, and then the Jett Blacks, featuring guitarist John McLaughlin. His break break came in 1962 when he was hired by The Shadows for two years. Their was talks of Jones replacing bassist Brian Locking of The Shadows, who had left the band in October of 1963, but John Rostill was chosen for the position.
In 1964, Jones started to do studio session work with Decca Records. He played on hundreds of recordings sessions until 1968. He worked under artists such as The Rollings Stones, Herman's Hermits, Donovan, Jeff Beck, Francoise Hardy, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart, Shirley Bassey, Lulu, and Dusty Springfield.
During this session playing, Jones adopted his stage name, Jhn Paul Jones, suggested by his friend, Andrew Loog Oldham, who had seen a poster for the ilm John Paul Jones in France. His first recording under the new name was "Baja/ A Foggy Day In Vietnam," released in April of 1964. He had been completeing two to three sessions a day, six to seven a week. He said that he was burnout because of the heavy workload.
He said, "I was arranging 50 or 60 things a month and it was starting to kill me."
The Band To Be
Jones had met Jimmy Page a few times during his time as a session player. He had even contributed to The Yardbird's Little Games album in 1967. That winter, Jones told Page about his desire to be apart of any project. So, later that year when The Yardbirds disbanded, Jones went back to Page, at the suggestion of his wife, who automatically invited him into the band.
Page later explained: "I was working at the sessions for Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man, and John Paul Jones was looking after the musical arrangements. During a break, he asked me if I could use a bass player in the new group I was forming. He had a proper music training, and he had quite brilliant ideas. I jumped at the chance of getting him.
The four musicians first played together at a record store on Gerrard Street in London. They played "Train Kept A-Rollin," suggested by Page, where Jones knew they were going to be a hit as soon as he heard John Bonham play the drums. The first studio track Led Zeppelin did was "Jim's Blues," a Three Week Hero album for P.J. Proby.The band had done a Scandinavian Tour in September of 1968. Page had used every penny he had to make the tour work, Robert Plant had recalled, and they made no money at all. They continued on to make a first album, based upon their live set. Page covered the costs himself. After the album was complete, the band was forced to change their name due to a cease and desist letter via Chris Dreja.
Gaining $200,000 from Atlantic Records that November, Led Zeppelin was now under a contract, having been signed without even auditioning for the record company. Their contract stated that the band would have to release albums, tour, and design the album and its contents. They would also have to promote each release and decide which tracks to release as singles. So Led Zeppelin formed their own company, Superhype, to handle all publishing rights. Jimmy Page decided to produce all of it.
The band announced their new name on October 14, 1968 and played their first show at the University of Surrey in Guildford on October 25. They then played a short British tour. Afterwards, Richard Cole organized their first North American Tour from December to February. They first played in Denver on the 26th followed by East Coast dates before moving to California to play in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The band completed four US and four UK tours during their first year.
Led Zeppelin I, the band's eponymous debut, was released on January 12, 1969 during the US tour and on March 31, 1969 in the UK. Even thought Plant wrote the lyrics with Page, he received no credit. The album itself was number 10 on the Billboard chart and number 6 in the UK.
Led Zeppelin II, their second album, was released on October 22, 1969 to the US and UK. In both countries the album reached number 1. On November 15, the album received a 12x Platinum by the RIAA for selling over 12 million copies. Steve Waksman has said that Led Zeppelin II was "the musical starting point for heavy metal."Led Zeppelin III was released on October 5, 1970. Page and Plant had originally gone to a cottage in Wales called Bron-Yr-Aur to write the songs on the album. The acoustic sound was due to the influenced folk and Celtic music. Critics and fans were surprised at the turn of electric arrangements from the first two albums to the now third album. "Immigrant Song" was released in November of 1970 against the band's wishes as a single, reaching the top twenty on the Billboard chart.
By now Led Zeppelin had reached to the top and were critically a success. The band members began to change up their image to more flamboyant clothing. They began to travel in a private jet called The Starship. They would rent out entire sections of hotels. They became the subject of repeated stories of debauchery. Bonham even rode a motorcycle through a rented floor of the Riot House, or the Continental Hyatt House. They were even banned from the Tokyo Hilton for trashing a room they were staying in.
Led Zeppelin IV was released on November 8, 1971. It was a blank album cover as they band wished to be anonymous. It was called Untitled, IV, and Led Zeppelin IV to fans because of the Four Symbols on the sides. Led Zeppelin IV is one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 23 million copies by 2006.
Houses of the Holy was released on March 28, 1973. It used more experimented sounds, such as the mellotron orchestration and synthesizers. The song "Houses of the Holy" did not appear on the album, but on Physical Graffiti, as it had been being recorded at the same time. The cover of the album was very controversial as it had nude children climbing the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. It was even banned in some parts of the world, like the Bible Belt. The album, though, topped the charts.
However, following exhausting tours and extended periods of time away from his family, by late 1973 Jones was beginning to show signs of disillusionment. He considered quitting Led Zeppelin to spend more time with his family, but was talked into returning by the band's manager, Peter Grant.
Jones said, "I didn't want to harm the group, but I didn't want my family to fall apart either. We toured a huge amount in those early days. We were all very tired and under pressure and it just came to a head. When I first joined the band, I didn't think it would go on for that long, two or three years perhaps, and then I'd carry on with my career as a musician and doing movie music."
At Tampa Stadium, Florida, they played to 56, 800 fans, grossing $309, 000. The film [[The Song Remains The Same]]was filmed at Madison Square Garden where they performed three sold out shows. The movie was delayed until 1976 though. $180, 000 of the band's money was stolen from a safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel, causing a huge problem for the band, and striking tons of news
In 1974, Led Zeppelin took a small break and formed their own record label, Swan Song. named after their unreleased song. Their logo was based off of a drawing called Evening: Fall of Day by William Rimmer. The drawing can be found on Led Zeppelin memorabilia, especially tee shirts. Besides using Swan Song to promote their own albums, they promoted other artists such as Bad Company, The Pretty Things, and Maggie Bell. The label lasted only three years after the band disbanded.
Physical Graffiti was released on February 24, 1975, as the band's sixth studio and double album. Recording the songs were put on hold as Jones debated whether or not to leave the band. But they eventually reunited at Headley Grange to finish recording. Rolling Stone magazine referred to the album as Led Zeppelin's "bid for artistic respectability." Not to mentioned they had to compete with The Rolling Stones and The Who for "The World's Best Rock Band."
In May 1975, Led Zeppelin played five sold-out nights at the Earls Court Arena in London, at the time the largest arena in Britain. Afterwards, they took off and planned a fall tour in America. Unfortunately that August, Plant and his wife, Maureen, were involved in a car crash whole on holiday in Rhodes, Greece. Plant suffered a broken ankle. Maureen was badly injury. A blood transfusion saved her life. Plant stayed in the Channel Island of Jersey that fall to recuperate. They later reconvened in Malibu, California, where they began to write their next album.
Presence was released on March 31, 1976. Many ideas for the album came from the hiatus concerning the cancelled album due to Plant's car accident. During the recording of the album, Page had begun to use heroin, which may have affected their live shows and studio recordings, although Page denies this. The album, however, was a platinum record, but critics suggested that the band's excesses may have caught up with them.
The band did not tour because of Plant's injuries, but instead, they completed the concert film, The Song Remains The Same, and the soundtrack album. Because they had not toured since 1975, the film was not popular in the UK. Led Zeppelin was forced to face an uphill battle to recapture the public's affection.
In 1977, Led Zeppelin toured North America. They set another attendance record of an audience of 76, 229 at Pontiac Silverdome on April 30. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it was the largest attendance to date for a single act show. On April 19, over 70 people were arrested as about 1,000 fans tried to gatecrash the Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum for two sold out concerts. Others tried to enter by throwing rocks and bottles through glass doors. On June 3, a riot broke out at the Tampa Stadium because of a severe thunderstorm causing the concert to be cut short. Arrests were made and people were seriously injured.
On July 23, Led Zeppelin held a show at the Days on the Green festival at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. Unfortunately, Bonham and members of the band's support staff were arrested after a promoter from Bill Graham's staff had been badly beaten during the band's performance. The following day's second Oakland concert was the band's final live apperance in the United States.Two days later, on July 26, as the band checked into a French Quarter hotel, Plant received news that his five year old son, Karac Pendragon, had died from a stomach virus. The rest of the tour was immediately cancelled. Plant retreated to his home in the Midlands, reflecting on his future, mourning the death of his son.
In Through The Out Door was released August 15, 1979, the band's eighth album, and the last album before the death of Bonham. The album reached number 1 on both US and UK sales charts. The song "All My Love" was written by Plant, inspired by the death of Karac.
On October 17, 1980, the band was scheduled for a North American Tour. On September 24, Bonham was picked up by Led Zeppelin assistant Rex King to attend rehearsals at Bray Studio. They stopped for breakfast where Bonham drank four vodkas (450ml/15 oz) with a ham roll, which he simply said to King, "Breakfast." He drank heavily at the studio and was later taken to Page's house - The Old Mill House in Clewer, Windsor. Bonham had fallen asleep after midnight and was taken to his bed, being placed on his side.
At 1:45PM the next day, Led Zeppelin's new tour manager Benji LeFevre and Jones found Bonham dead. The cause of death was asphyxiation from vomit, accidental death. The verdict was found on October 27. An autopsy found no drugs in his system. Bonham was cremated on October 10, 1980, and his ashes were buried at Official Rishock parish church in Droitwich, Worcestershire. The tour was cancelled and despite rumors that others would join the group to replace him, the remaining members - Plant, Page, and Jones - decided to disband. A December 5, 1980 press statement stated that, "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were," and was signed, "Led Zeppelin."
Jones collaborated with a number of artists after the breakup of Led Zeppelin - Diamanda Galas, R.E.M., Jars of Clay, Heart, Ben E. King, Peter Gabriel, Foo Fighters, lenny Kravitz, Cinderella, The Mission, La Fura dels Baus, Brian Eno, The Butthole Surfers, and Uncle Earl. He was in sessions and videos with Paul McCartney and was in the soundtrack of the film Give My Regards To Broad Street and Scream For Help, along with Jimmy Page. He even provided the vocals for two of the songs. Jones recorded and toured with singer Diamanda Galas on her 1994 album, The Sporting Life.
Jones set up his own recording studio called Sunday School, as well as being involved in his daughter Jacinda's singing career. In 1985 Jones joined Led Zeppelin on stage at the Live Aid concernt. They reunited again at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert on May 14, 1988, closing the event. In 1992, Jones arranged the orchestration on the RE.M. album Automatic For The People. In 1995, Heart released a live acoustic album called The Road Home which Jones produced and played several instuments on.
Jones released his first solo album, Zooma, in September of 1999, followed by The Thunderthief in 2001. Both albums were accompanied by tours with Nick Beggs from Chapman Stick and Terl Bryant on the drums. He toured in 2004 with Mutual Admiration Society. He played two tracks on the Foo Fighter's album, In Your Honor, where he played mandlin on "Another Round" and "Miracle." Dave Grohl said that Jones's guest apperance was the "second greatest thing that happened to me in my life."
Jones produced albums such as The Mission's Children, The Datsun's Outta Sight, Outta Mind, and Uncle Earl's Waterloo, Tenneessee. In May of 2007, Jones accompanied Robyn Hitchcok and Ruby Wright in performing the song "Gigolo Aunt" at a tribute for Pink Floyd found Syd Barrett in London, which he played on the mandolin.In 2007, Jones played at Bonnaroo with Ben Harper and drummer Questlove as part o the festival's all-star Super-Jam. The festival brings together famous, world-class musicians to jam on stage for a few hours. He played with Gillian Welch during the song "Look At Miss Ohio" and Johnny Cash's "Jackson." He appeared on the set of Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals where he played a cover of "Dazed and Conused." Jones closed Gov't Mile's first set, playing part of "Moby Dick" and then "Livin Lovin Maid," "Since I've Been Loving You," and "No Quarter." Jones also performed on mandolin with Uncle Earl, whose album he had produced in 2007.
In April of 2007, Jones played "Whole Lotta Love" with Duhks at the MerleFest in North Carolina. He played in the Led Zeppelin Reunion show at London's O2 Arena on December 10, 2007 as part of a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun.
In 2008, he produced Sara Watkins' debut solo album. OnFebruary 10, 2008, Jones appeared with the Foo Fighters on the Grammy Awards, conducting the orchestral part of "The Pretener." On June 7, he and Page appeared closed the Foo Fighter's concert at the Wembley Stadium. He performed with Sonic Yout and Takehisa Kosugi, providing the stage music for Merce Cunningham's Nearly 90, which ran from April 16-19, 2009 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
In October of 2010, Jones was awarded a "Gold Badge Award" by The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors for his contribution to Britian's music and entertainment industry. On the tentgh of November he was awarded the "Outstanding Contribution Award" at the Marshall Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards.In February and March of 2011, he appearedin the onstage band i Mark Anthony Turnage's opera Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House in London. That Augst he appeared at Reading and Leeds Festivals to play alongside Seasick Steve. Jones' most recent own project is a supergroup with Dave Grohl and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme named Them Crooked Vultures. The trio played their first show together on August 9, 2009 at theMetro in Chicago, and their first album was released on November 17, 2009. The group is tentatively planning a second album and world tour for 2011–2012.