When Robert Plant thought about kicking John Paul Jones out of Led Zeppelin

There are many wild and remarkable stories behind the most iconic rock acts, particularly about the frequent lineup changes that occur in the music industry. In some cases, band members refuse to work out together, or the artists decide to pursue other career paths, and, sadly, members die, forcing a lineup change. Choosing to continue with different people is often a big decision for bands because it can drastically change a band’s sound and success. It is nearly impossible for a band to stay together for years and not have a single lineup change since its inception, but Led Zeppelin is an exception to this rule. Though they aren’t known for changing their lineups, Robert Plant did consider replacing John Paul Jones with another bassist at one point. Why did Robert Plant want to take over for John Paul Jones?

Fans will remember John Paul Jones for his iconic bass lines and contributions to the sound of Led Zeppelin. Because of his multi-instrumental ability, he was able to bring a distinct musicality to the band. He stayed with Led Zeppelin until the band’s disbandment in 1980, but there was a time when he considered leaving.

Jones wanted to take a break from the band in 1973, after five albums and constant touring, to spend more time with his family. The band’s manager, Peter Grant, eventually persuaded him to return. Jones stayed with the group for another seven years. Around this time, Robert Plant considered firing John Paul Jones and replacing him with another bassist in Led Zeppelin. The Runaways’ lead guitarist Rita Ford revealed in her 2016 memoir, ‘Living Like a Runaway,’ that Robert Plant attended one of their shows. Instead of John Paul Jones, the singer offered her the position of new bassist with Led Zeppelin. Ford couldn’t believe what she was hearing, but Plant seemed serious about his invitation.

Rita Ford stated in her autobiography: “He asked if I could play the bass.” ‘For whom?’ I inquired. ‘Led Zeppelin.’ He could have been drunk or pulling my leg, but he seemed dead serious at the time.” During an interview with Brave Words in 2013, Ford also discussed Robert Plant’s offer. The bassist enthusiastically accepted the singer’s offer but did not pursue it. She didn’t try to force it because John Paul Jones is one of her favorite bassists. She couldn’t imagine herself in Jones’s shoes. Nonetheless, Ford thought it was pretty cool of Robert Plant to think about including a female musician in Led Zeppelin.

In response to Robert Plant’s offer, Ford stated: “They arrived at the Starwood. The Starwood is no longer there, but they went upstairs and back to the dressing room. They shook everyone’s hands, and a large crowd gathered around us while we took photos. We gave them a Runaways t-shirt, which they wore. And Robert Plant compliments me on my guitar skills. Would you like to be a bass player for Led Zeppelin?’

He wasn’t kidding! ‘Yeah, right,’ I thought. I shook it off as if it were a joke, but I don’t think he was. ‘Yeah sure, right,’ I said, and that was the end of it. I didn’t even bother with that one. John Paul Jones is one of my favorite musicians. He is one of my favorite bassists. I couldn’t see myself succeeding him. But I thought it was pretty cool that they considered having a female in their band.” Given what John Paul Jones was going through at the time, the remaining band members were most likely looking for a new bassist. Robert Plant’s offer to Rita Ford was probably serious, but it didn’t come true because Jones chose to stay with the band.

 

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