The Paul McCartney Album John Paul Jones Played on in the Post-Zeppelin Years

When Led Zeppelin notched its first Billboard No. 1 album at the close of 1969, comparisons to The Beatles inevitably began. After all, Led Zeppelin II had bumped Abbey Road from atop the U.S. charts. But there wasn’t going to be a rivalry from the bass chair. John Paul Jones made it clear he was a fan of Paul McCartney.

“I think [McCartney’s] perfect,” Jones told an interviewer in April ’70 (via Led Zeppelin on Led Zeppelin). “He’s always been good. Everything he’s done has always been right. […] He’s improved so much since the early Beatles days, and everything is still right.”

Later in the ’70s, with Zeppelin ruling the rock scene, McCartney made it clear he was a fan of Jones (a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter in his own right). McCartney brought Jones into his Rockestra for a recording session and performances at the Concert for Kampuchea.

But their partnership didn’t end in the ’70s. When McCartney made a feature film in the ’80s, he brought in Jones to play bass and make an appearance during the track’s performance on-screen.

John Paul Jones played on Paul McCartney’s ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’

Paul McCartney plays piano in a scene from 'Give My Regards to Broad Street', 1984. John Paul Jones plays bass behind him.
Paul McCartney plays piano in a scene from ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’, 1984. John Paul Jones plays bass behind him.| Richard Blanshard/Getty Images

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You don’t hear much about it these days, but McCartney wrote and produced a feature film titled Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984). And McCartney starred in the picture along with Bryan Brown and Ringo Starr.

Though the film didn’t do well at the box office (it got pummeled by reviewers), the soundtrack LP was a hit. It featured new versions of Beatles and Wings songs along with some new material, including the hit ballad “No More Lonely Nights.”

The soundtrack also included “Ballroom Dancing,” which McCartney had originally recorded for Tug of War (1982). But in the Give My Regards to Broad Street version, listeners heard Jones on bass.

If you ever catch the film, you’ll see that Jones didn’t just play for the soundtrack. He turns up on-screen for the performance of “Ballroom Dancing” led by McCartney. Jones stands just behind McCartney in his ’50s gear.

McCartney inquired about playing in Them Crooked Vultures after Jones joined

John Paul Jones walks behind Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend, who are joking during a concert rehearsal in 1979
John Paul Jones walks behind Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend, who goof around during concert rehearsals in 1979. | Mike Lawn/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Jones-McCartney connection continued into the 21st century. After performing with Dave Grohl at the 2009 Grammys, the former Nirvana and Foo Fighters drummer told McCartney about a supergroup he was forming with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. McCartney had one question for him.

“I asked him who was playing bass and he rather sheepishly told me he’d approached [Jones],” McCartney told the Daily Mail in 2010. “So you read it here first: Paul McCartney was nearly the bass player in Them Crooked Vultures. Actually, I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened but it’s an interesting project.” (Jones and Them Crooked Vultures won a Grammy in 2011.)

Then, in 2012, fans who turned out to see Damon Albarn’s Africa Express in London got a nice surprise. Jones kept popping on-stage to jam with the band (they did a version of “Kashmir”). And later in the show, McCartney came out to play guitar while Jones played mandolin behind him. Those two just kept crossing paths.