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5 March 2012 8,367 views 7 Comments

Following his appearance at the John Cage Musicircus event the day before, John Paul Jones was in attendance yesterday (Sunday March 4) on the Manson stand at the London Bass Guitar Show staged at at Oympia Conference Centre.

Accompanied by his guitar tech and guitar maker Hugh Manson, John spent over an hour meeting and greeting fans, signing autographs and posing for photos. There was plenty of interest in the Manson JPJ E signature bass that was on sale – John told me it’s his number one bass. ‘’It’s easy to play, it has very good balance and tone to the strings – a very rich tone and it’s not too heavy .It’s the favourite for me and the signature series is exactly as the one I use and I’d thoroughly recommend it’’

After filming in an interview for  Televisa Mexico, John and Hugh strolled around the show taking in the many stands and stopping off to chat to the guys at Orange amps and Rotostrings amongst others.

John kindly signed my copy of the Over Europe book and we had a laugh as we had a re-enactment of the photo taken of us at the Melody Maker Poll Awards in 1979. ‘’We’ve worn rather well’’ he noted!

Now…TBL editor and JPJ – London Bass Guitar Show Olympia London March 4th 2012

..and then…TBL Editor and JPJ – Melody Maker Poll Awards Waldorf Hotel London November 28 1979

John also kindly made time to conduct an exclusive interview with me for the next TBL –we discussed his recent on stage activity with Seasick Steve, Spin Marvel and Robyn Hitchcock,(‘’I am up for anything as long as I don’t have to prepare too much!’’ he wryly commented), the recent announcement of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegen Oxford University scholarship, thoughts on the 02 show, Physical Graffiti 37 years on, the Manson JPJ E signature bass, the bass guitars he used in Zep, his on-going opera projects and the forthcoming Composer Portrait event at the Kettle Yard Gallery Cambridge with Stephen Montague and more.

This interview will appear in the next issue of the TBL magazine issue 32 which kicks off the 2012 subscription –yet another reason to subscribe! Here’s the link to do so.


Hugh Manson – bass guitar maker with John Paul Jones – bass guitar player

The Bass Guitar Show itself was a lively affair with various Masterclasses taking place including appearances by ex Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray and the impressive Doug Wimbish who has worked with the likes of Lauren Hill.

It was great to hook up with the Manson team led by Adrian Ashton who has himself interviewed John for Bass Guitar magazine over the eyars.  For details of the John Paul Jones E bass signature model and Manson guitars in general visit

DL with Adrian Ashton from Manson Guitars

The previous day John made an appearance at the English National Opera John Cage Musicircus event staged at the London Coliseum.

Here’s an exclusive review by Simon Cadman for TBL:

John Paul Jones proved yet again that when it comes to esoteric, he’s way out there.  Jones performed at a celebration at the English National Opera in London to mark the hundredth birthday of avant-garde composer John Cage – famed for his notorious piece, 4’33”.

Thankfully, JPJ did not contribute to four minutes, thirty-three seconds of silence on Saturday afternoon -but he did play an intriguing part in a truly eclectic musical event which reflected Cage’s experimental genius. ‘Musicircus’ was inspired by the ‘Happenings’ orchestrated by Cage in the 1950s – collisions of sound generated by multiple, simultaneous actions.

So there was no central performance on the huge main stage of the English National Opera’ magnificent Coliseum home. Instead, the audience wandered throughout the rest of the building, intimately soaking up the sounds from choirs, a freeform jazz ensemble, toy pianos and four people jabbering loudly on mobile phones.

JPJ was playing solo in an upstairs bar, armed with his enormous Andy Manson triple neck mandolin, a foot peddle with which to trigger pre-programmed drones, an iMac and a touch-screen electronic device.

Getting a handle on what the hell was going on was hard at first; Black Dog this definitely was not. We know Mr Jones has made demands on audiences before, particularly with his previous work in the operatic world. But the music he produced at English National Opera madeDiamanda Galas sound like Katy Perry. This was Musique Concrete of the kind Beatles fans found so difficult to swallow on The White Album. He may have been playing a mandolin – but not as most of us would know it.

The relaxed atmosphere helped make sense of the heavily-treated electronic chaos. We were able to sit on the floor in the sunshine, very close to where JPJ was playing. People came, people went. Sometimes just six of us were there. At others, as many as twenty. Two other Zep heads gave themselves away by staying put like me, rather than circulating. Our close proximity did not bother Jones. He made no eye contact and wore his serious face. This was most definitely performance demanding of concentration.

All the artists were playing in bursts, strictly organised by clocks and stopwatches. So Jones was stopping and starting throughout the two hour performance, sometimes sitting inactive for up to five minutes before launching another sonic attack. And it was when he suddenly jerked to a halt that interesting aural collisions started to happen – from mad mandolin melange to the sudden delicacy of handbells being played from around the corner. Other juxtapositions included Jones cutting out to reveal distant screams, toy pianos and operatic yelping. At other times it was Jones who got delicate, then responding to flamenco handclaps and pounding beats from drummers who were wandering nearby.

And here was where the excitement of anarchy lay. There was no score; it was all entirely random. In a brief interview after the performance, John told me he had improvised everything. And at its best, it really did work. Patience was rewarded with random moments of spine-tingling intensity from a supreme player stretching himself, as ever, into the most demanding areas of modern music.

Simon Cadman for TBL.

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Tribute band Gigs ahead:

A couple of UK tribute band gigs happening this week:

Letz Zep are in action at the this Thursday March 8th at the Tutu’s Bar KCLSU Macadam Building Surrey Street London

For more details see :

Hats Off To Led Zeppelin play St Albans Arena on Friday March 9th

For more details

Below: Will the real Mr Jones step forward! Hats Off To Led Zeppelin bassist Kevin Oliver Jones with his namesake who also knows a bit about bass and keyboards…


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • Graham Rodger said:

    Well remembered Dave, that’s excellent.

  • André Cruz said:

    To a Zep fan that lives in London it was enough visit on saturday to meet JPJ on sunday… Lucky you all are !!!

  • Graeme said:

    Great report Dave. Thanks as always for keeping the fires burning. Hope to catch up soon. Best, Graeme

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Jeff!

  • Jeff Strawman said:

    John Cage’s Musicircus 2012 – John Paul Jones plays Triple Mandolin

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Funnily enough I mentioned this to John yesterday – the badge read
    Rock against journalism – a wry comment on their mixed relationship with the press at the time.

  • Graham Rodger said:

    That photograph taken at the 1979 Melody Maker Poll Awards… what does JPJ’s badge say… anyone…?

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