Jon Lord, longtime keyboard player of Deep Purple, has died at the age of 71. He announced that he was battling cancer less than a year ago, and had a pulmonary embolism earlier today. A statement from Lord’s PR company says the following:
“It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.
“Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with many bands and musicians throughout his career.
“Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.
“Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.
“Jon passes from Darkness to Light.
Lord’s use of the Hammond organ, played distorted through a Marshall amp, gave Deep Purple a distinctive sound, and also brought the instrument to heavy rock. As the architect of Deep Purple’s sound, his solos on songs like “Space Truckin'” and “Hush”were instantly memorable. He also played with Whitesnake for several albums until rejoining Deep Purple in 1984 for their awesome Perfect Strangers album. Since leaving Deep Purple again in 2002, he’d been working more on classical music, as well as writing with supergroup Whocares, a band that includes Tony Iommi, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian and Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain, among others.
An aside: as a fellow keyboard player, Deep Purple was one of the first (only?) heavy bands to make keyboards cool. Jon Lord’s mix of blues and classical playing was inspirational to me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that feels the same way.