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Music

When John Paul Jones called Led Zeppelin the "best band in the world"

@TylerGolsen

John Paul Jones was not known for his bombastic commentary. Largely seen as the quietest and most mysterious member of Led Zeppelin, Jones had a habit of disappearing without notice, declining interviews, and staying out of the antics and infamous activities that made Zeppelin the world’s most notorious rock band.

For his part, Jones claimed that he participated in his fair share of destructive activities, but it was just that he was better at not drawing attention to himself while doing it. He was the band’s most anonymous member, and whereas Robert Plant or Jimmy Page would get hounded by fans, groupies, and press the second that they walked out of their hotel rooms, Jones was mostly able to wander around as he pleased.

All of this meant that Jones garnered a reputation with the band’s audience: taciturn, slightly uptight, strict, disciplined, and dedicated to music. He seemed bemused, or rather unamused, by the hoopla that came with the travelling circus around Led Zeppelin, and while Plant was proclaiming himself a Golden God, nobody would catch Jones doing such an egomaniacal thing.

But time gives us all perspective, and Jones has earned the right to cast false modesty aside. When interviewed by the BBC in 1997 to talk about the then-recently released BBC Sessions album, Jones didn’t mince words when it came to the mighty Zep. “We were the best bloody band in the world,” Jones proclaims with a grin spreading across his face. “Simple as that,” he added.

Jones went on to say that he knew of Zeppelin’s power from the very first rehearsal. “Literally the room just exploded. It was the most thrilling thing ever,” he said. When the band had to pay their dues opening for other acts, Jones knew that Zeppelin were truly in a league of their own. “Playing with other bands, when we started supporting other bands, there was just nothing like us at the time.”

The clip helpfully plays the first bit of a song by The Carpenters just to underscore the contrast that was between Led Zeppelin and the state of popular music at the time. It’s not hard to see why people took to Led Zeppelin like a revelation, and why should Jones pretend like that wasn’t what happened? He was there, and he knows just how dominant Zeppelin were among the scores of acts who tried, but failed, to match them.

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