Wednesday, August 12, 2009


On this day in 1994, John Paul Jones began a five-night stint with the band Heart at the Backstage in Seattle. The following May, two further guest appearances with Heart would make it onto the band's live album The Road Home.

Not known to Jones while in Seattle playing with Heart, his former bandmates Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were together in England that very same day. Page and Plant were casually attending the Cropredy Festival. They didn't perform that day, but in less than a week, they would be performing. They'd just filmed some outdoor jams of theirs in Morocco and were about to continue filming in Wales and London, then incorporating Led Zeppelin material.

Jones wouldn't know about Page and Plant's newfound partnership until weeks later, when he first learned about it from his accountant. By then, it was common knowledge, but the word had somehow eluded Jones. In an interview once, he recalled his accountant mentioning the Page-Plant collaboration in conversation and then saying, "Oh, didn't you know they're working on an MTV Unplugged?"

Over the course of August 1994, Page and Plant worked together permanently for the first time in 14 years. During the second week of August, they filmed some new music of theirs outdoors in Marrakesh, Morocco, and flew right back to the United Kingdom, where they would soon be filming reworked Led Zeppelin numbers on a Welsh mountainside and in a London TV studio.

In London, they were joined by an Egyptian orchestra with five percussion players, four string players, one musician on an Egyptian bamboo flute, and another on an ancient Middle Eastern stringed instrument. This was amplified by the 29-member London Metropolitan Orchestra. There were also members of Plant's touring band, plus Porl Thompson of the Cure on second guitar and banjo.

Plant also said he was glad to work with Page outside of the confines of a Led Zeppelin reunion. "We were both free at the same time to explore together in the future tense," he said. "I thought that the best thing that we could do, Jimmy and I, is to start without the confines and the constrictions of a rock group situation and just see what we can do."

For Jones, there was a measure of sting in the others' actions. "It was kind of surprising they didn't at least warn me," he told the Toronto Sun six years later.

One underreported aspect to this surprise is that Jones had anticipated hearing from Page about reuniting themselves with Plant. This is what Jam Showbiz uncovered in 2000 from talking with Jones. "Prior to [the Page-Plant collaboration beginning in 1994], Jones says, Page had approached him about working together again. Jones tentatively agreed to it, and was under the impression that Page would then approach Plant about getting back together with the group ..."

The interview by Paul Cantin further quotes Jones as saying, "There were plans that WE would ask Robert. It was actually left that [Page] would let me know when he had approached Robert. ... The next I heard of it, [Page and Plant] were out on the road with a record coming. They never got back to me ... I actually had to read about it."

By the time of Led Zeppelin's DVD release in 2003, Page deemed everything among the three of them "water under the bridge," and they were working together to promote their new album. Four years later, they were sharing a stage with their instruments again -- but for only one show.

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