It’s a sad start to the week for rock fans everywhere as Deep Purple founder and keyboardist Jon Lord has died, departing for that great gig in the sky at the age of 71.
A message posted on the acclaimed musician’s website last night read: “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.”
During the course of a music career which spanned more than five decades, Lord not only co-wrote many of Deep Purple’s most famous songs but also achieved fame as a member of Whitesnake and earned praise for his work as a classical composer too.
Lord pioneered new ways of incorporating keys into rock music and wrote and performed classical pieces with some of the world’s top orchestras – the passing of this one-of-a-kind talent drew tributes from across the musical spectrum, from heavy metallers Iron Maiden to jazz pianist Jamie Cullum.
So, to mark his passing, let’s take a remind ourselves of the Jon Lord most of us knew: the long-haired keyboard wizard we saw rocking out on TV…
Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Written by Lord when he was only 28, this fusion of classical music and Deep Purple’s unique take on rock was performed by the band alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in September 1969. The BBC were on hand to capture a performance that is often cited as the first ever by a rock band and orchestra:
This version of Purple’s highest-charting single was performed on Top of the Pops in 1970 and saw the band on rip-roaring form, pounding out a riff adapted from Ricky Nelson’s song Summertime.
Child in Time
Another performance from 1970, this tune from the band’s In Rock album features Lord to the fore, his organ melodies duelling with Ian Gillan’s banshee-like vocals:
Here I Go Again
After Purple originally split in 1976, Lord joined David Coverdale’s band Whitesnake, adding what he called a sonic “halo” to the group’s meat-and-potatoes blues rock. While he didn’t necessarily enjoy his tenure with Whitesnake as much as his time in Purple, his membership of the band got him back onto TOTP, which is where this 1982 performance comes from:
Out of My Mind
After re-forming Purple in 1984, Lord stayed with the group until 2002 when a knee injury caused him to bow out of the band. He kept up his classical work throughout the decade, however, and eventually ended up joining rock supergroup Whocares in 2010. They released this charity single last year: