In Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page composed most of the music and Robert Plant wrote the lyrics. This is a common trend in bands where one or two members lead the song-making process. However, sometimes other members, who usually remain in the background, can steal the spotlight. For example, Peter Criss wrote KISS’ hit ‘Beth,’ Steve Gaines sang Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Ain’t No Good Life,’ and Randy Meisner sang the Eagles’ ‘Take It to the Limit.’
John Paul Jones played a major role in the creation of Led Zeppelin’s album “In Through The Out Door.” Robert Plant was grieving the loss of his son and Jimmy Page was struggling with addiction while John Bonham was battling alcoholism, leading Jones to take on a larger role in the album’s production.
During the making of the album “In Through The Out Door,” Robert Plant and John Paul Jones worked closely together due to Jimmy Page’s heroin addiction and John Bonham’s alcoholism. This resulted in the creation of the song “All My Love,” which showcased the tragedy Plant faced after losing his son. The album marked Jones’ chance to take a more prominent role, using keyboards and synthesizers, and it was a departure from their typical sound. Despite pushback from Bonham and Jones, the album was a commercial success and topped charts.
In 2015, Jimmy Page reflected on the creation of the album “In Through The Out Door” in an interview with the Guardian. He remembered Robert Plant going through a tough period after the loss of his son, but eventually deciding to work on the album. Page credited Jones’ inspiration from his Yamaha keyboard, dubbed “the dream machine,” for Jones’ sudden burst of songwriting on the album. When asked about the impact of Plant’s loss on Led Zeppelin, Page had the following to say:
“Certainly, I can’t even get into discussing what everyone else thought. I don’t want to put words into Robert’s mouth, but obviously, he made the decision to go back on the road and do an album. In 1978, Robert made a decision that he wanted to reappear. We started doing some rehearsals and getting together, John Paul Jones got this keyboard made by Yamaha, and it was called the dream machine. So you can imagine what it was; if you’re going to call something a dream machine – it was a state-of-the-art keyboard.”
According to Page, Jones was inspired by his new Yamaha keyboard and had a creative resurgence, writing several complete songs for the first time. The album “In Through the Out Door” was recorded at Polar, a state-of-the-art studio owned by Abba, which was looking to establish itself as an international recording studio and reached out to Led Zeppelin to help achieve that goal. Page mentions that while the album had a different sound from previous Led Zeppelin albums, this was a good thing as the band was known for experimenting with different sounds on each album.
Jimmy Page referred to John Paul Jones’ creative burst during the making of “In Through The Out Door” as a renaissance, due to his unexpected outpouring of songwriting. Page acknowledged that the album would have a different sound compared to their previous work, but he viewed this as a positive as each Led Zeppelin album had its own unique sound.