The 5 Instruments Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones Played on ‘Stairway to Heaven’

by Jeremy Spirogis
John Paul Jones at the keyboard

When people within the business heard Jimmy Page had introduced in John Paul Jones to play with him in Led Zeppelin, most realized the band had a rock-solid basis. Like Page, Jones had made a reputation for himself enjoying studio classes with prime London-based artists within the ’60s.

In their pre-Zeppelin days, Jones and Page may stumble upon one another on the best way to a Rolling Stones session and even play collectively on a monitor (as they did for Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”). So each knew what they have been entering into when Page put collectively the Zep.

For Page, it meant including (in Jones) a first-rate bassist who performed keyboards and will additionally rating and conduct orchestral components. Whenever Zep wanted a cool keyboard lick (see: “Trampled Under Foot”) or string components recorded on a Mellotron (see: “The Rain Song”), Jones may ship.

But Jones didn’t cease there. On Led Zeppelin III (1970), you might hear him enjoying a mandolin. And when the group recorded Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Jones carried out on 5 totally different devices to push the masterpiece “Stairway to Heaven” excessive.

John Paul Jones began together with his customary bass and keyboard components

John Paul Jones at the keyboard
Led Zeppelin, 1977: John Paul Jones | Chris Walter/WireImage

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Page employed Jones at the beginning as a bassist, and that paid off instantly on “Good Times Bad Times,” the opening monitor to Zep’s debut album. But earlier than getting by Led Zeppelin, listeners would hear Jones on electrical piano or organ for a complete of 5 tracks.

That custom that continued on the band’s fourth album. And although Ian Stewart took over boogie-woogie piano duties on “Rock and Roll,” Jones was on keys for the band’s iconic “Stairway to Heaven.” You hear him first on his electrical piano on the finish of the second verse (2:15).

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Jones’ bass additionally enters the combo at that time, and also you hear him on each devices for the rest of the track. (If you’ve ever seen a stay efficiency of “Stairway,” you in all probability seen web page behind an array of keyboards, and that is why.)

But whereas Jones does wonderful “Stairway” work on devices Zep followers would have anticipated him to play, the monitor kicks off with Jones featured on three devices that weren’t attribute within the slightest.

Jones additionally performed three recorders on ‘Stairway to Heaven’

Led Zeppelin on stage in 1975Led Zeppelin on stage in 1975
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones carry out as Led Zeppelin on the Greensboro Coliseum on January 29, 1975. | Rocky Widner/FilmMagic

If you picked up Led Zeppelin IV in ’71, you wouldn’t have identified what anyone did on the document. There aren’t any credit itemizing devices and performers (outdoors of Sandy Denny). And, the place you’d discover the musicians’ names, patrons discovered symbols of their place.

So you’ll be able to’t blame anybody for not realizing Jones performed three totally different flutes on “Stairway to Heaven.” In Led Zeppelin: All the Songs (2018), the authors break down the monitor’s instrumentation, crediting Jones with bass, tenor, and soprano recorders.

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So whenever you hear Page open the monitor together with his well-known guitar riff, the primary man to hitch him is Jones on bass recorder. Shortly after, he enters the combo harmonizing with himself on soprano and tenor recorders. (Jones reportedly pushed for the recorders.)

In stay exhibits, Jones lined his bass and flute components utilizing a Mellotron. That implies that, altogether, Jones performed six devices to get “Stairway” down on document and at live shows. Calling him “a secret weapon” looks as if an understatement.

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