That time Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones appeared on Conan O'Brien with an alt-rock supergroup and it wasn't Them Crooked Vultures

Mutual Admiration Society on Late Night With Conan O'Brien
(Image credit: NBC)

It's probably fair to say that John Paul Jones has had the most varied post-Led Zeppelin career of the three surviving members. 

While Robert Plant has explored North African blues and English folk with his own band and with Saving Grace, Jimmy Page has spent much of his time curating the old band's legacy. Jones? He's been everywhere.

Whether it's recording and touring with confrontational avant-garde singer Diamanda Galas, hooking up with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl for the one-album supergroup Them Crooked Vultures or appearing on a self-released live album by celtic/ska/punk outfit Bandits Of The Acoustic Revolution, Jones' path has been as irregular as his choices have been interesting. 

In 2004 he joined short-lived alt.rock supergroup Mutual Admiration Society on tour. The band, headed by Toad The Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips, all three members of bluegrass band Nickel Creek – Chris Thile (mandolin), and siblings Sara Watkins (fiddle) and Sean Watkins (guitar) – plus Elvis Costello & The Attractions drummer Pete Thomas, for a US tour.

Promoting the band's sole, self-titled album, the run of 14 dates kicked off on July 27 at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, and wrapped up with two shows at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, on Aug. 18 and 19. The schedule also included a night at the Paradise Club in Boston, on August 12, with the Conan O'Brien filming taking place on the previous evening at the NBC studio on Rockefeller Plaza, New York City.

Mutual Admiration Society played an extremely spirited version of the album's Sake Of The World, while other guests on the show included Clyde Peeling – the proprietor of Reptiland, a zoo in Allenwood, Pennsylvania – and actor, comedian and filmmaker Dax Shepard. 

"I just tend to pursue the music I like," Jones told the Wall Street Journal in 2009. "The whole thing with Sara [Watkins] was that I really liked her band Nickel Creek. I just really liked what she was doing. Sara is the first musician I’ve gone and asked, can I work with you?"

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.