See John Paul Jones & Musicians From Around The World Perform Powerful ‘When The Levee Breaks’

The video also features Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jane’s Addiction’s Stephen Perkins and more.

By Nate Todd Jan 3, 2023 2:25 pm PST

Today marks John Paul Jones’ 77th birthday. The extremely talented Led Zeppelin multi-instrumentalist was the legendary rockers’ secret weapon — playing bass, keyboards and mandolin both in the studio and onstage. But JPJ stuck to his bass axe and let musicians from around the world handle the other instruments for a recent Playing For Change video featuring a performance of “When The Levee Breaks.”

Originally written and recorded by blues pioneers Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929, “When The Levee Breaks” lyrics channel imagery from the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Led Zeppelin reworked the song for their iconic 1971 fourth self-titled album. “When The Levee Breaks” closes out Led Zeppelin IV and is one of their most masterful studio works. But considering they used a good deal of studio magic on the track, it was hard to recreate live and thus a rarity at Zep’s live shows.

Fifty years on from “When The Levee Breaks” arrived, technology has taken leaps and bounds. The pandemic also revolutionized how musicians can interact with one another. Players from all corners of the globe can now capture performances that can be stitched together to create unique pieces of music that would be difficult to put together in a live setting, much like Led Zeppelin’s original “When The Levee Breaks.”

In February 2022, John Paul Jones collaborated with a number of musicians from around the world in Playing For Change’s ​​“Song Around The World” video of “When The Levee Breaks.” JPJ was joined “by Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and over 20 musicians and dancers from seven different countries,” notes accompanying the video stated.

Some of those musicians include Ben Lee on harmonica, Alfredo Arce on Siku Flute, Buffalo Nichols on vocals/guitar, Davey Chegwidden on Dundun Drums, Sikiru Adepoju on Talking Drum and more. Derek Trucks added slide guitar and Susan Tedeschi lent her powerful voice to the track with Stephen Perkins on drums and John Paul Jones on bass.

To celebrate John Paul Jones’ birthday today, watch the bassist perform “When The Levee Breaks” with musicians from around the world below:

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