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The co-founder of the hard rock band Deep Purple, Jon Lord, died in London on July 16 at the age of 71. The death was due to a pulmonary embolism, as Lord had been battling with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family, as stated on the official Lord’s website, which continues “Jon passes from Darkness to Light.” Earlier this month Lord canceled a live performance in Germany; fans were reassured via his website not to be concerned, but that the cancellation was only due to Lord’s regular treatment schedule.
Since the formation of Deep Purple in 1968, not only was Lord the keyboardist of the band, he was also a co-author of many of its most notorious hits, including the infamous “Smoke On The Water.” A visionary, Jon Lord was one of the central musicians who brought on the fusion of hard rock and the more baroque forms of music; he was the first musician to connect the Hammond organ to a Marshall amplifier, usually used for guitars, creating a heavy and innovative sound.
Lord was part of Deep Purple since its foundation in 1968 until their first split in 1976, and rejoined again for the 1984 reunion, until retiring in 2002. Lord also played with Whitesnake, Paice, Ashton & Lord, The Artwoods and Flower Pot Men and several independent rock profiles, including George Harrison.
The influences of classical music can be felt in Lord’s work; he started playing piano as a young child, with a classical formation before moving to blues and jazz sonorities.
Even after his cancer diagnosis, music kept being a central part of Lord’s life. In August last year he wrote “I shall of course be continuing to write music – in my world it just has to be part of the therapy – and I fully expect to be back in good shape next year.”
A general feeling of sorrow pervaded the music scene after the announcement of Lord’s passing. Fellow keyboard player, Rick Wakeman of Yes, wrote: “His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly.”
Among others, Deep Purple band mates released an official statement, which reads “Our beloved Jon passed away on this day Monday 16th July 2012. We have lost a dear friend, a brother and a wonderful musician. His dignity and graciousness touched us all. His music was an inspiration and took us to places beyond our imagination…A truly great man. We humbly express our eternal love and great respect.”
Image Courtesy of Silvio Tanaka