John Paul Joel Main Page Live John Paul Joel Performance Videos How I play each Led Zep song Basses I play as John Paul Joel Keyboards I play as John Paul Joel The Mandolin I play as John Paul Joel Costumes and wigs used to create John Paul Joel The Led Zeppelin tribute bands I perform with My Gig and Tour schedule as John Paul Joel Email me!

Read this: Zep! Live still in classic-rock orbit (3/16/2017)
A nice article about my love of this music, performing as JPJ, and ZepLive.

I love this music.

After spending my high school years playing Elton John and listening to Yes and Stravinsky, I entered the Hartt School of Music and met a guitaist named Jamie Sherwood who introduced me to many bands, including Led Zeppelin. Of course I had heard of them - it was only 1979, and they were still around - but they were more one of my older brother's bands rather than mine while we were growing up. But I fell in love with their progressive complexity along with their power, especially from Bonzo. Our drummer could play both John Bonham and Neil Peart dead on, so we became a Rush tribute (where I had my first experience playing bass and keys in a band) with a healthy dose of Zeppelin, Yes, The Who, Floyd, Tull and (later on) King Crimson and The Police.

As I continue digging this hole even deeper, I find I am updating my Facebook page (as John Paul Joel, sans cooking photos) a bit more often than this tome. More at Facebook: @johnpauljoelpelletier.

Live 2024 JPJ Rigs (4/30/24)

I continue with my goal of building and performing with the most accurate-looking JPJ rig, which includes not only the basses, mandolin and bass amps, but the vintage keyboards. Yes, it's all theatre, and that means it's ATLEAST as much about how it LOOKS as how it sounds (otherwise the paying audience can just stay home and listen to actual Zeppelin recordings), so I believe the accuracy of the left side of the Zeppelin stage is very important from the audience perspective. My keyboard rig (all MIDi controllers in vintage-type shells when possible) now always includes three keyboards: a Rhodes piano, a Mellotron and a Clavinet, as seen in Zeppelin's THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME film from their 1973 US tour (JPJ's rig changes from tour to tour based on instrument availability and song list). I have the full correct-looking rig in the No Quarter trailer for all of their shows where the band provide backline; when flying in, I can still bring my dissasemblable Pellotron #2 and a fold-up white 61-key controller for the Clavinet and other keyboard parts, and the productions provide a weighted 88-key controller for the Rhodes parts. With Zeppelin Live I have another full Three-keyboard rig with my latest/greatest Faux Rhodes, another Clavinet shell with a 61-key controller, and the same Pellotron #2, all fitting (somehow) in my non-van.

Pellotrons Now For Sale at (2/20/24)

I've been building and improving the vintage mellotron-style shells built around MIDI controllers that I use with all the the Led Zeppelin tributes I perform with around the world. I am finally pretty happy with the results, based on the original vintage mellotron specs, and have engineered them so that they fold up and store in easily transportable cases or bags. I've also built a few more than I can ever use myself, so if there are actually any other JPJ tribute guys out there who see the value of this (or any other keyboardist who could make use of them) I now make them available for sale. More at

Live Performance Videos & Rig Rundown as JPJ (8/2023)

Performing Led Zeppelin's NO QUARTER with "THE FULL JPJ RIG" in the US West Coast tribute band No Quarter, a good representation of everything I have been working towards for over 20 years as a tribute performer (with more complete song videos on their website).

Here's a RIG RUNDOWN (something very popular with the kids today) with the JPJ Rig I can load in the car, this one with Zeppelin Live.

To put things into perspective, I have no illusions about being the star.

Fast forward over 30 years, after making my way to Los Angeles, playing in a few cover and many of my own original bands, I returned to rock tributes, first for over 3 years as John Entwistle, and now as John Paul Jones. A great musician and producer/arranger, Jones' bass, keys and mandolin playing in Zeppelin was to me the cerebral core of the band, holding down the fort for Bonham, while staying out of Jimmy Page's way. His playing served the music first and was never deliberately flashy. He laid a powerful foundation (as bassist) and expanded the textures (as keyboardist and mandolin player) on their recordings and on the stage.

This is also not just about playing the music. It's about using whatever skills and passions I can bring to the table, including making THINGS, including instruments, costumes and (the most magical thing of all) live music. It's performance art.

2022-23 projects: In this Post-COVID Era I've had time and the inclination to dial in the authenticity of my keyboards even more. From 2020-2022 I built about a dozen basses, including MOAB (the Mother of All Basses) an amazing recreation of JPJ's 1962 Jazz Bass (my absolute best playing and sounding bass, and my #1 for all things Zeppelin). As for keyboards, in 2022 I refinished Faux Rhodes #1, changing the top from gold sparkle to the standard Fender Rhodes black. In August 2023 I completed my 3rd Faux-Mellotron controller, Pellotron #3, sticking as close to the original case dimensions and specs as possible. I also built and installed more accurate control plates for my previous two Pellotrons (as I no longer needed the space for an iPad, running everything off a MacBook).

2020 projects: As of July 2020, I now have four very outstanding '62 Jazz Bass "tributes" (plus a '67 Sunburst Jazz tribute), all hand-assembled in my shop with parts from Fender and other makers, each with different strengths and voices. I've also completed a JPJ Tribute Funster '51 Precision Bass, duplicating a bass JPJ used for live shows (along with his trusty '62 Jazz) starting in 1971. Many posts regarding this build on my Facebook page, and soon at

2019 projects: Acoostic360bass rig, a false Acoutic 360 bass rig including a pair of foldable faux-361 1x18" speaker cabinets (suitable to place my speakers next to or behind/inside), and a pair of faux-Acoustic 360 bass preamps with live input jacks and battery-powered LED power lights (one with a curtain to access controls on my Hartke bass head).

The Pellotron assembles from the carrying bag in about 20 minutes (probably faster, but it had been a few months...)

PELLOTRON 2.0 (a 30lb MIDI Mellotron that disassembles into a bag/case for transport and flight check-in) and a new JPJ-like '62(ish) Jazz Bass with flats.

2018-9 projects: Completed JPJ's 1973 Tour Jacket (as seen in THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME), completed MIDI Moof! pedals, recreation of JPJ's Alembic and Becvar basses (in progress), the PELLOTRON (MIDI Mellotron) and gold top Faux-Rhodes and Fauxfisa keyboards.

I have been wanting to play Zep music again for quite a while, and this gig (both as a member of San Jose, CA Zep tribute Zeppelin Live, the JPJ in the most current version of Mr. Jimmy's Led Zeppelin Revival, Lake Elsinore's Stairway to Zeppelin, Lake Arrowhead's Zep tribute L.A. Zeppelin, and in the past as a fill-in JPJ for Chicago's Led Zeppelin 2 and Ventura, CA's Zep tribute Led Zepplica AND OTHERS) forces me out of my comfort zone, which can only make me a better musician. The bass parts are at times challenging, but the keyboard sounds and parts required that I upgrade all of my key gear, dive back into tone programming, and then (for flying gigs) get everything to fit in two cases weighing less than 50lbs each, which continues to be a challenge. I have been able to play to some of the largest and best audiences in my life since playing JPJ, and it is musically and financially rewarding. This site is a way for me to document the process of "becoming" John Paul Joel, both in sound and looks. I will never BE John Paul Jones (he is still around, and does a fine job on his own, thank you very much), but the performance art aspect of a great tribute band still fascinates and challenges me daily.

Facebook and Twitter Accounts:
Facebook: @johnpauljoelpelletier
Twitter: @johnpauljoel | @zeplive

I also tweet wise-ass remarks and photos @realJOELP

Thoughts on Tribute Bands
(adapted from an essay posted on my website from Aug 2007, while performing as John Entwistle in a Who tribute)

As I was preparing for (an audition for a Who tribute), I was reminded of how I felt auditioning for cover bands many years ago, and how I never really liked them much just hearing them (and was a bit embarrassed performing with most of them, although when I was actually DOING it I could usually blot this out and just concentrate on the bass parts). I wondered how I REALLY felt about the whole "tribute band" thing. Can it be a serious way to make music, or are they just cover band clowns appealing to a very narrow musical subculture? Except for a few bands that no longer exist (Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc), most tribute bands are actually trying to glom on to an established fan base of an actual, current existing band. Most tribute bands that I have seen don't come even close to matching any of the musical sound, power or authenticity of the original band.

Here's a few things I have realized since really getting into this thing:

  1. Most ALL bands are cover bands, including most original bands, who make their living performing hits sometimes created decades ago with mostly different musicians
  2. Most all musicians make their living playing OTHER people's music; it's what they put into it that helps to make it uniquely their own
  3. ALL musicians and performers wear costumes onstage; some are wearing their "street costume" that fits into the current definition of "cool", at least for their genre/social/economic group, but most musicians wear uniforms from matching suits to tuxes to coat and tails. I recently accidentally attended a "Casual Friday's" night at the LA Philharmonic, and actually hated all the different clothing the orchestra wore, feeling that it took away from the visual unity of the ensemble.
  4. Most all original bands attempt to SOUND like an established, successful band in order to get that record deal (many times I have been advised by managers and record company people to "pick a band and write songs like them" to get a publishing or record deal). This is how the music business works - they are afraid of something truly different, and only sign unique and ground-breaking bands after they have had so much indie success that they can no longer ignore their financial potential
  5. Anything can be ART if you take it to the highest level, and if you take it seriously enough, then it IS serious

I take this seriously because I take the music seriously, take Johh Paul Jones's bass and keyboard parts VERY seriously, and get to play with some incredible musicians with the same attitude and skill level I try to bring to it. Every week I tweak and hone my playing, my instruments and gear, my costume AND my attitude. I don't claim to be the best at what I do, but I try to do the best I can. I'm not there yet, but it's the journey - not the end - that counts.

© 2011-2024 Joel Pelletier, email:
Updated 30 April 2024

Website design: the Way Home media

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