John Paul Jones Gets Honest on Led Zeppelin Relationship in Resurfaced Interview: “We Weren’t Friends”

When people think of rock and roll bands, often the concept comes to mind of three or four or five buddies gathering together to write music, become famous and tour the world. But what doesn’t jump to mind is the idea that a band can also be a collection of hard workers and that the job of being a musician is just that: work.

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But when it comes to the iconic British-born rock group, Led Zeppelin, that was just it. It was a collection of professionals who came together to make great music. But when a tour was done or a studio session was over, they went back to their separate lives. They weren’t vacationing together like bosom buddies—that is, according to the group’s bassist and multi-instrumentalist, John Paul Jones.

[RELATED: 3 Songs for People Who Say They Don’t Like Led Zeppelin]

Led Zeppelin Weren’t Friends?

In a 2007 interview with Q magazine, the video of which has recently resurfaced on TikTok and other social media platforms, Jones talks about his famous band’s dynamic. Led Zeppelin, which was put together by guitarist Jimmy Page after his time with the blues rockers The Yardbirds, was a collection of U.K. all-star artists. Not some wide-eyed band of four grammar school pals looking to make it big.

“I mean,” said Jones, “we weren’t like a group who grew up together and made it big. Led Zeppelin wasn’t manufactured exactly but it was put together by Jimmy… Even with Zeppelin, the thing is we have never socialized. As soon as we left the road, we never saw each other, which I always thought contributed to the longevity and harmony of the band. We weren’t friends.”

“You Didn’t Book Your Mates”

Zeppelin, which was founded in 1968, included Jones on bass, Robert Plant as lead vocalist, Page as lead guitarist and John Bonham on drums. The group released its debut self-titled LP in 1969 and quickly became one of the biggest bands in the world. Jones, who first met Page well before Zeppelin was founded, says they were studio session artists before they were collaborators.

“Even though I’d see him in the studio every day, we never socialized,” Jones said, reflecting on this formative period. “The rule with studio sessions in those days was you didn’t book your mates.”

Led Zeppelin, after releasing eight studio LPs, six of which went No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, broke up in 1980 after Bonham’s death from pulmonary aspiration. It was a heck of a run.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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