Deep Purple’s keyboard and jazz organ player Jon Lord died Monday at age 71.
He suffered from a fatal pulmonary embolism in London after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, according to reports.
While many who have ever picked up a guitar started out learning the riff to “Smoke on the Water,” the guitar riff is only part of the bands signature sound. Lord was equally responsible for the unique, heavy rock sound that solidified the band’s sound from its nascent days in the clubs across England to the pinnacle of success in stadiums across the world from 1968 to his retirement from the still active band in 2009.
Always dressed impeccably in black, Lord was involved in many projects ranging from the expected, such as guest appearances in Whitesnake and time spent as a member of Black Sabbath. In fact, Lord famously continued to wear the unique Cross necklace made for him by Tony Iommi’s father, given only to members of the band, in publicity pictures for years afterwards.
Most recently Lord was working with Deep Purple singer Ian Gillian and Black Sabbath guitar player Tony Iommi.
“The Highway Star” official fan website for Deep Purple published a recent photo of Lord and redirected readers to JonLord.org. In an optimistic message to his fans dated August of 2011 he promised he would continue to write music emphatically claiming, ‘it just has to be part of the therapy.”
He had planned to resume touring this year, but sadly was unable to fulfill that promise, leaving his many fans with a sense of loss.
The back catalogue of his music includes scores of unreleased songs from Deep Purple alone is expected to number in the dozens.
Longtime friend and Deep Purple collaborator Ritchie (aka Richie) Blackmore posted a personal message that expressed the guitarists sadness. “Jon was not only a great musician, he was my favorite dinner companion. We are all deeply saddened. We knew he was sick but the word was that he was recovering and doing much better.
“This news came as a complete shock. Without Jon there would be no Deep Purple. He lives on in our hearts and memories.”
Lord is survived by wife Jackie, twin sister of Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, their daughter Vickie and Sarah, sole issue of his first marriage to Judith Feldman, who he divorced in 1981.