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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

RIP Jon Lord keyboard maestro

It was a great shock that I learnt today that the Jon Lord, the keyboard player, best known for his work with Deep Purple and Whitesnake passed away yesterday having died from pancreatic cancer. We have lost too many good people recently. He was a true colossus in the music world, having been a heavy rock pioneer with Deep Purple contributing immeasurably to many of their classic songs including the seminal "Smoke on the Water" & "Black Night." He was a true genius on the keyboard (being voted "Best Keyboard Player" in Sounds for 7 years running in the 1980's), providing a heavy Hammond keyboard backing to the amazing guitar riffs of Ritchie Blackmore. He also had regular musical "duels" with Ritchie, and this was often improvised, their innate ability to play together, follow or lead and improvise led to many an extended song, especially in the 1970's which was often a feature and often this was the highspot of the gig. My dear brother and I always had an expression for the best of the best, it was Deep Purple Mk2, meaning the second and best line-up of the band which of course included Jon Lord, translated to something being of the highest quality! Jon's keyboard solos were always unique and a highlight of any Deep Purple or Whitesnake concert that I attended. He was also a pioneer in the classical field too, composing the critically acclaimed "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Malcolm Arnold in 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall. This was truly groundbreaking stuff; never before had a rock band performed with a classical orchestra, this proved so successful that the format has been repeated several times. I was delighted to attend the repeat 30th anniversary performance once again at the Royal Albert Hall in 1999, it was excellent and a fantastic experience for all who attended. On a personal note, I was delighted to meet the great man in 2001 and he lived up to his reputation as the "gentleman of rock", highly articulate, I enjoyed a stimulating conversation with Jon and was delighted to get his autograph too, outside the stage door at the Hammersmith Apollo. He will be very sadly missed. He lives on in our hearts and the great music he created.

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