Saturday, December 10, 2005

John Paul Jones reveals what killed instrumental music; Planted on a stool, part 2 of 2

The first part of the newsletter edition published Dec. 10, 2005, centered on a Led Zeppelin concert with special guest Norman Hale sitting in on the piano. This second part contained information on some of John Paul Jones's activity in the music scene of 1964, including his involvement at the time with one of Hale's fellow acts in an instrumental band.

OK, I promised there would be more on instrumental bands, so here we go.

Four years ago today in an interview with me, John Paul Jones commented on the popularity of instrumental bands in Britain. The Beatles changed all that! So much for Jones' first-ever solo single, released January 1964, a beat-era instrumental called "Baja," written by Lee Hazelwood, who was one of the biggest writers, arrangers and producers of instrumental music. Jones recorded "Baja" at London's Regent Sound, providing what sounded like a surf guitar melody line that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a single by Dick Dale.

His single was in league with some of the instrumental music that had been popular earlier in that decade in England. Jones swore to me that there were lots of instrumental bands in the country during the early 1960s, notably the Shadows and the Tornados. However, by 1964, instrumental music had a smaller listening audience. When "Baja" was released, the market for instrumental music was all but gone, and the No. 1 U.K. single was "Can't Buy Me Love," the sixth single by the Beatles.

Jones attributed the decline of instrumental music to the success of the Beatles. The music scene changed overnight with "Love Me Do," released on Oct. 5, 1962, and the chart-topping "Please Please Me," released on Jan. 11, 1963. "My personal beef with the Beatles is that they also killed instrumental music forever, from the first song," he said, chuckling. "Lots of instrumental bands. Beatles came along." He smacked his hands together and said, "No more instrumental music. It's all vocals from then on."

While the Beatles worked on its film debut, A Hard Day's Night, Jones' single flopped, and he pushed aside his goal of solo stardom for a good 35 years.

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