50 years ago: The Runaways’ guitarist Lita Ford was invited to replace John Paul Jones in Led Zeppelin

Lita Ford and Robert Plant
(Image credit: Getty)

Led Zeppelin without John Paul Jones might sound unthinkable, but by 1973, after five albums and constant touring, Jones wanted a break to spend more time with his family. “We were all very tired and under pressure and it just came to a head,” he told Mojo back in 2007. “I didn’t want to harm the group, but I didn’t want my family to fall apart, either.”

It was around this time that Robert Plant considered replacing Jones with The Runaways’ lead guitarist Lita Ford. In a 2013 interview with BraveWords, Ford said: “They came to the Starwood Nightclub. They shook everyone’s hands, and a huge crowd gathered around us, and we took photographs. We gave them a Runaways t-shirt, and they put it on. And Robert Plant says to me, ‘You’re really good on guitar. Would you like to play bass for Led Zeppelin?’

Robert Plant with The Runaways (Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Cheri Curry) in dressing room after their show at The Starwood Hollywood

(Image credit: Photo by Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images)

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.