Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jon Lord 1941-2012

Jon Lord, who played keyboards for Deep Purple and Whitesnake until he retired in 2002, died yesterday of a pulmonary embolism, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.  Lord was born in 1941 in Leicester, England and took classical musical lessons as a child, but later was influenced by blues-style organ playing.  He combined both influences playing the Hammond organ, often with distortion effects, but also played piano during his time with Deep Purple.

Jon Lord was one of the founders of Deep Purple, along with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and drummer Ian Paice.  From 1968 to 1976, the band had three different lead singers (Rod Evans, Ian Gillan and David Coverdale) and three different bass players (Nick Simper, Roger Glover and Glenn Hughes, who also contributed some lead vocals).  The founding trio stayed together until 1975, when Blackmore left and was replaced on guitar by Tommy Bolin.  Deep Purple disbanded in 1976, after which Coverdale founded Whitesnake, which for a time included both Lord and Paice.  In 1984, the Gillan-Blackmore-Lord-Glover-Paice lineup reunited, and stayed together until 1988.  Subsequent lineups have included Joe Lynn Turner (who had sung with Blackmore's group Rainbow) or Gillan on lead vocals, and Joe Satriani or Steve Morse on guitar instead of Blackmore.  After Lord retired, Don Airey replaced him on keyboards.  Today, the lineup consists of Gillan, Morse, Airey, Glover and Paice.

Read more at CNN Entertainment, MassLive, Billboard, the Daily Mail and MTV News.  I've also found a Deep Purple fan site that has lots of information about the band.

Of course, no tribute to Jon Lord would be complete without some of his music.  During their early years, Deep Purple recorded a version of Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman, which features one of Lord's more impressive (and classical-influenced) organ solos.  The lineup includes Evans and Simper.

Highway Star, from the Machine Head album, features some distorted Hammond organ.

One of my favorite Deep Purple songs is My Woman From Tokyo, in which Lord plays both organ and piano.

Lord shows off his classical and blues influences during the intro to Lazy, sharing the spotlight with Blackmore's guitar.  As if their virtuosity isn't enough, Gillan contributes a harmonica solo.

And last but not least, I must include Deep Purple's most famous song, Smoke On The Water.  Here's a live version.  In all of these videos except Kentucky Woman, the lineup includes Gillan and Glover.

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