Jon Lord, the original and ear-boggling keyboardist from the British rock band Deep Purple, died today, July 16, 2012, after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. He was 71. Lord, who had been battling pancreatic cancer, was surrounded by his family at the London Clinic when he passed away. Lord’s official website had reported the news, with the statement, “Jon passes from Darkness to Light.”
Lord was one of the unsung titans of hard rock and roll indeed, as his keyboard and organ sounds were an integral part to the amplified bluesy swagger of Deep Purple. On songs like “Lazy,” “Highway Star,” “Bloodsucker,” “Smoke on the Water,” “Woman From Tokyo,” “Child in Time,” and so many others, Jon Lord laid down sounds in the band that made it instantly recognizable that one was listening to Deep Purple as soon as they heard his grooves. He also incorporated many baroque and classic styles in his playing, and it stretched out into the band’s sounds as well, helping make Deep Purple one of rock and roll’s all time greatest and most unique bands.
He was part of the band from 1968-1976, was one of its founding members, and one of the few who went through many incarnations of Deep Purple with many members who came and went during that time, famed guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Ian Gillan included, but he and drummer Ian Paice were the constants during that first dizzying and ever-growing wave of success for the band. They reunited in the 1980s, and Lord stayed a permanent member again in Purple until his retirement in 2002.
Lord had also toured with early incarnations of Whitesnake, Paice, Ashton and Lord, and lesser known lineups like The Artwoods and Flower Pot Men. He also had a musical rendezvous with people like George Harrison and Tony Iommi.
Guitar World wrote that guitarist Joe Satriani was one of the first to break the news. This is a sad day today, as rock and roll fans around the world lament the passing of the great Jon Lord, whose last name was certainly evocative and aptly-named for this great musical individual.