wed 13/12/2017

Jon Lord, 1941-2012 | reviews, news & interviews

Jon Lord, 1941-2012

Jon Lord, 1941-2012

Rock's much-loved classical crossover keyboardist has tinkled his last ivory

Lord of Smoke: Deep Purple's keyboardist Jon Lord

Before last December’s O2 Deep Purple gig, I heard one denim-clad middle-aged man arguing to another that the absence of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was irrelevant. Rather, without keyboardist Jon Lord, this was Purple in name only. Moreover the band had brought an orchestra along. What a cheek, given that Deep Purple’s iconic Concerto for Group and Orchestra had been 100 per cent Lord’s baby.

Sadly it was announced this morning that rock music’s great crossover pioneer had passed away. Jon Lord had suffered a pulmonary embolism and Twitter started to chirp with heartfelt messages of condolence from rock legends like Iron Maiden and Slash. Heavy rock had not only lost one of its great Hammond players but also one of its all-round great guys.

Lord had been suffering from pancreatic cancer since last August, writing but no longer performing. Of his 71 years, he had played professionally for 50 of them, moving effortlessly between rock, blues, jazz and classical. In 1964 he played on the Kinks' “You Really Got Me”, but he will always be best known for founding and playing with numerous incarnations of Deep Purple. His work with Purple was sandwiched around stints with similar-minded blues-rock outfits Whitesnake and Paice, Ashton & Lord.

However in later years Lord returned to the classical music he learned as a boy with the 2004’s symphonic Beyond the Notes, in particular, winning friends from admirers of orchestral music. It is testament to the success of Lord’s instrumental music that this afternoon Classic FM felt moved to play a tribute to him. Lord will, however, always be best loved for the fat organ sound of the Machine Head album, and his incomparable contribution to “Smoke on the Water”.

Jon Lord plays "Lazy" with Deep Purple in 1999

He will always be best known for founding and playing with numerous incarnations of Deep Purple

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