Jon Lord has passed away at the age of 71, prompting a number of high profile rock musicians to pay tribute to the man who helped to make Deep Purple one of the most successful rock bands in the world. Lord was the organist for the band and brought a wealth of both classical and rock influences to the band, helping to elevate them above their contemporaries and establish themselves as one of the most revered bands of the 1970s and beyond.
Lord studied piano from the age of five, when he was growing up in Leicester. As a teen, he found himself influenced by the rising stars of rock 'n' roll. He was inspired by the piano-playing styles of the likes of Jimmy Mcgriff and Jerry Lee Lewis, as much as he was by the classical composers that he had studied as a child. He once claimed, in a 1973 interview with NME that his band, Deep Purple were "as valid as anything by Beethoven." His confidence was rooted in his belief that rock music had provided an important contribution to our culture, as classical music had before it.
He formed Deep Purple in 1968, along with Ritchie Blackmore, Rod Evans and Ian Paice. The band went on to tour the world, playing some of the biggest venues in the world and pioneering their own sound as they went along - due largely to Lord's distinctive organ sound. Lord and Paice remained a constant, in Deep Purple's ever-evolving cast of band members. In 1976, the band dissolved "amid a haze of drug addiction and exhaustion" (The Guardian, July 16, 2012). In 1984, they reformed, with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover joining Paice and Lord.
In 2002, Lord requested a break from touring for a year. When his band mates refused the request, he politely left the group, preferring to work on low-key solo projects and the formation of Hoochie Coochie Men, his blues band. Despite having gone from the band's touring schedule, Lord's work in Deep Purple left a bold impression on a host of rock musicians, many of whom have paid tribute to the organist on Twitter. Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello marked his respects by saying "RIP the great Jon Lord, Deep Purple's cornerstone/keyboardist. So many great great songs and that incredible SOUND of his! Thankyou." Joe Bonamassa's message read "I am extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Jon Lord today. One of the nicest and most talented people Ive ever met. Rest in Peace" and Joe Satriani also posted on his Twitter feed to note the influential musician's passing.
Lord's family released a statement today (July 16, 2012) that read, "Jon passes from Darkness to Light" and confirmed that he passed away at The London Clinic, after suffering from pancreatic cancer. He had been receiving treatment for the disease since last August. He is survived by his wife Vicky and two daughters, Amy and Sara.