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Led Zeppelin Bassist Looks Back On Reunion Concert

David Fricke of RollingStone.com recently conducted an interview with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

RollingStone.com: What were your feelings the day of the show, in the hours before you went on stage?

John Paul Jones: I tried to keep the enormity of it all as far away as possible, until the last minute. I sat around playing banjo all day. It calms me down. For every show we've ever done, there is always hype, expectancy. For us, it was just "Let's get on and do it." Obviously, it was quite a reception when we did get out there.

RollingStone.com: There was a dramatic quality to opening with Good Times Bad Times - the first song on Led Zeppelin's first album.

John Paul Jones: That's the hardest riff I ever wrote, the hardest to play. But it was a good starter, because everybody had to focus. We soon figured out in rehearsals what the first three numbers would be (Good Times Bad Times, Ramble On, Black Dog) and that we would play them straight through.

What gave us confidence was the week before [the show], we did a full production rehearsal, with the full screen set up. That was really good. It was a smaller room, and you could hear everything, which is the only thing I regret about those stadiums - you don't hear all of the subtleties. The groove is much tighter in the small room. I can only wish we could play 2000 seaters forever, because that's where it sounds great. But the excitement was there on stage [at the O2 arena], as it was in the old days.

RollingStone.com: At soundcheck, I was surprised to hear you, Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham play instrumental versions of Good Times Bad Times and Ramble On. It was like hearing Zeppelin in dub — the subtleties and interplay that go into the background when Robert Plant sings over them.

John Paul Jones: He didn't do that much singing in rehearsal. Robert wanted to protect his voice. We did a lot of the songs instrumentally for quite awhile, especially when he was out doing promotion [for Raising Sand, Plant's hit album with Alison Krauss]. And it was really good for us. It was us getting used to each other, which you have to do in order to bring this off. You want to be tight. But I like to be free in what I do. I hardly ever play the same bass line twice. Even in songs where it's mapped out, like Good Times Bad Times, I swap it around a little bit. We all enjoy the freedom to do that. In order to have that freedom, you have to know each other so well.

RollingStone.com: How would you describe Jason's playing during the show? He was very much his father's son.

John Paul Jones: A lot of the fills were not what his dad did at all. He's as fearless as his dad, that's for sure [laughs]. But he did an amazing job, when you consider that he had to answer to every drummer in the world after that show. With that sort of pressure, to bring all that off was astonishing. Kashmir was absolutely wonderful, the way he led in and out of the choruses and bridges.

Read the entire interview at RollingStone.com.
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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