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 My John Paul Joel Twitter Account Email me!

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.

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.

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, Los Angeles' new 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) 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 online (10/10/2015)
I am starting up a Zeppelin Jam club project (where all the Zeppelin tribute and Zeppelin-loving musicians in the SoCal area can get onstage and play their favorite Zep songs). In order to help promote this, I have launched Facebook and Twitter accounts for both my John Paul Joel project (that twitter account has actually been online for a while now) and the Zeppelin Live project. Please feel free to "friend" me, or sign up, or Tweet, or whatever...

Facebook: John Paul Joel | Zeppelin Jam
Twitter: @johnpauljoel | @zeppelinjam
I also tweet wise-ass remarks and photos @joel_pelletier

Thoughts on Tribute Bands
(adapted from an essay posted on my website joelp.com 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.

© 2011-15 Joel Pelletier, email: joelp@johnpauljoel.com
Updated 11 October 2015

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