John Paul Jones, the musician, was born with the name John Baldwin on January 3rd, 1946 in London, England. He was one of the founding members Led Zeppelin, IMHO the greatest rock band of all time. Jones became the most under-rated rock musician of his generation, and perhaps ever.

Jones joined his father's band at age fourteen, although he had been touring with his family since age 2. By the mid '60s he had firmly established himself in the London studios directing, arranging, and producing, as well as session work on both keyboard and bass for famous acts including both the Rolling Stones and the Supremes.

In 1968, Jimmy Page, who had met Jones when Page was in the Yardbirds and Jones was doing work as a session player, invited Jones to join him and two lads from the north country (Robert Plant and John Bonham) to form the New Yardbirds, which would become Led Zeppelin.

The rest is history.

Check out the powerful bassline in Dazed and Confused. Or the boogie hard rock basslines in What Is and What Should Never Be (my favorite), Good Times Bad Times, and Hey Hey What Can I Do. Or the fun rock piano in Hot Dog and Fool in the Rain. Or the organ in All My Love (classic organ solo and great bass work too) and Your Time is Gonna Come. Or everything else Zeppelin put out. Then I dare you not to get our your knees and worship him. Or at least understand his kickassitude.

After Zeppelin broke up in 1980 with the death of Bonham, Jones' career lived on in the studio and otherwise. He did more production and arrangement work and even scored some films, like The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb.

Sadly enough, Jones's most noteworthy public appearance since Led Zeppelin was playing bass with Lenny Kravitz on Are You Gonna Go My Way at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards show. Much to fans' chagrin, he was not involved in the Robert Plant/Jimmy Page Zeppelin reunion tour, Unledded.

In 1999, Jones finally recorded a solo album, Zooma.

Just as one last example of his greatness, here's a semi comprehensive list of bands he worked with before and after Led Zeppelin:


Post-Zeppelin session work:

Information taken from:

John Paul Jones was born John Paul, named after his father, who was a Scottish gardener on the estate of a Mr. Craik.

In 1773, while he was merchant captain of the Betsy, selling wine and butter on the island of Tobago, John Paul killed a mutinous sailor. Exactly what happened is unclear, but John Paul was advised by his friend the Governor of Tobago to flee and remain incognito. At some point during the next two years, John Paul adopted the surname "Jones", calling himself John Jones, and then adding back his former name of Paul.

Paul Jones served in the Continental Navy and then in the new United States Navy. He is famous for conducting raids on shipping around Ireland, Scotland, and England, and for actually landing a party on British soil -- something that had not happened since the Dutch invaded in the 1600's.

His most famous battle, in the Bonhomme Richard, was fought off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, against the British ship Serapis. The two ships were, on the surface, evenly matched, but nearly all of Bonhomme Richard's cannon were disabled early in the battle.

Through crafty seamanship Paul Jones maneuvered his ship head to tail with the Serapis and grappled fast. His crew shot and hand grenaded anyone who came on the upper decks of the Serapis, and three nine-pounder guns were able to shoot away her masts and rigging. Serapis' big guns could only fire into the Richard's hull. The two ships pounded each other in this deadly embrace until well after dark; horrified yet fascinated spectators gathered on Flamborough Head to watch.

Finally a boarding party forced Serapis to surrender. The next day the Bonhomme Richard sunk; Paul Jones transferred his flag into his prize the Serapis.

I can't believe no one has mentioned the most interesting thing about Jones (the captain, not the bassist): his still lifelike body, preserved in alcohol under the chapel of the United States Naval Academy.

John Paul Jones died in Paris on July 18, 1792, in the midst of the French Revolution. He was buried in a lead coffin in the St. Louis Cemetery, which just so happened to be the property of an unsainted Louis who would soon lose his head in the guillotine.

The revolutionary government had no use for cemetaries, so they sold it to a private owner. Its illustrious American occupant went completely forgotten.

A century or so later, the Americans decided they wanted their war hero back but didn't know where to find him. After an exhaustive investigation led by the American ambassador, Jones' bones were disinterred in 1905.

Except they weren't just bones. In what had to be the ultimate final gift to a sailor, Jones' body had been wrapped mummy-like in cloth strips and kept in its original 45-year old state by copious amounts of brandy. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be nephritis of the kidneys, and he was returned home at last.

Jones spent the next few years in the Naval Academy's Bancroft Hall, waiting patiently (as if he could do otherwise) for his 21-ton marble sarcophagous to be completed. On January 26, 1913, he was relocated with great ceremony to his current home in the crypt beneath the Academy's chapel. You can visit him there, still preserved in his alcoholic glory.

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