“I wrote Black Dog on a train. There was a Muddy Waters song with a riff that never ended...” How John Paul Jones wrote Led Zeppelin's Black Dog

John Paul Jones with his 1962 Fender Jazz Bass
(Image credit: Fender)

Armed with years of experience as a session bassist and arranger, John Paul Jones was the ultimate addition to Led Zeppelin, a rhythm and blues supergroup formed in 1968 by guitarist Jimmy Page, vocalist Robert Plant, and drummer John Bonham. Despite being overshadowed as a songwriter, Jones once penned a true Led Zeppelin classic while on a train ride home.

“I wrote Black Dog on a train,” said Jones in the February 08 issue of Bass Player. “My Dad taught me how to write musical notation without using manuscript paper – just with numbers and note values – and I wrote that riff on the back of a train ticket coming back from a rehearsal at Jimmy Page’s house.”

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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.