Happy Birthday John Paul Jones: Performing Live With Foo Fighters In 2008

Today marks John Paul Jones’ 76th birthday. The famed Led Zeppelin multi-instrumentalist was born John Richard Baldwin on January 3, 1946 in Sidcup, England. John hailed from a musical family with his mother working in the music business and his father Joe Baldwin a pianist and arranger for big bands. Following in his father’s footsteps, John started playing piano at age six and also picked up his dad’s knack for arrangement, something that would keep him busy throughout the 1960s.

The ‘60s also saw John picking up the bass. Coupled with his skill on piano and as an arranger, the talented musician became a secret session weapon for many of England’s biggest bands including The Rolling Stones — John’s string arrangement can be heard on the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request classic “She’s A Rainbow.” It was also the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham who suggested John adopt the stage name John Paul Jones after a 1959 movie about the famed Revolutionary War naval commander. John Paul Jones released his first solo title, a double single “Baja”/”A Foggy Day in Vietnam” under the moniker in 1964.

But for the most part, JPJ continued his work as a sessions musician, notably playing and arranging on some of Donovan’s most well-known songs like “Sunshine Superman,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and “Mellow Yellow” as well as on recordings by Jeff Beck, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart and many more. But session work began to wear on JPJ and he began looking for something new.

John Paul Jones often worked with another renowned session musician, guitarist Jimmy Page. Page had found work as the last guitar player for The Yardbirds — previous guitarists included Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton — and JPJ worked on the 1967 Yardbirds album, Little Games. While the group disbanded in 1968, Page was left to complete the remaining dates on the itinerary and put together a band which included John Paul Jones on bass and two relatively unknown musicians, vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham, forming the New Yardbirds to finish the tour dates in Scandinavia. The quartet would stick together and changed their name to Led Zeppelin.

As he was in his session work, JPJ was something of a secret weapon for Led Zeppelin playing bass, keyboards, mandolin and more. Along with forming one of rock’s greatest rhythm sections with Bonham, Jonesy also added another dimension to LZ’s studio and stage output in his keyboard work, perhaps most notably on his signature song, “No Quarter,” but also laying down mellotron on songs like “Stairway To Heaven,’ “The Rain Song” and “Kashmir” as well as clavinet on “Trampled Under Foot.” His skill in the studio also helped along producer Jimmy Page in turning out LZ’s legendary studio album output which sadly ended with 1979’s In Through The Out Door which arrived less than a year before the tragic and untimely death of John Bonham.

While Led Zeppelin released the compilation album Coda in 1982, they had decided that Bonham played too great a role in the band to continue. Jones returned to his work as a session musician and arranger which is how he came to collaborate with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. Jonesy contributed to FF’s 2005 double album In Your Honor, which featured a record with heavier, electric songs along with a more acoustic disc. JPJ played on the latter adding mandolin to “Another Round” and piano for “Miracle.” The highly collaborative album, which also featured Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, helped lay the groundwork for Grohl, Jones and Homme’s supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, formed in 2009.

A year earlier, however, Jones joined Foo Fighters on stage alongside his Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page during Foo’s encore at London’s storied Wembley Stadium on June 7, 2008. The sit-in featured two Led Zeppelin classics beginning with “Rock And Roll,” which saw an ecstatic Grohl on drums and drummer Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals. Dave then stepped to the mic as Page strummed out “Ramble On” over JPJ’s iconic bassline.

To celebrate John Paul Jones birthday, watch the legendary bassist perform with Foo Fighters and Jimmy Page in 2008 below:

Setlist

Foo Fighters at Wembley Stadium

  • The Pretender
  • Times Like These
  • No Way Back
  • Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make Up Is Running)
  • Learn to Fly
  • This Is a Call
  • Long Road to Ruin
  • Breakout
  • Stacked Actors  
Acoustic
  • Skin and Bones
  • Big Me
  • Marigold  
  • My Hero
  • Cold Day in the Sun
  • Let It Die
End Of Runway
  • Everlong
Main Stage
  • Monkey Wrench
  • All My Life
Encore
  • Rock and Roll  
  • Ramble On  
  • Best of You