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Bummer Alert

Remembering DEEP PURPLE Keyboardist Jon Lord (RIP 1941-2012)

Whenever I relive my childhood and the times I spent with my father in his pickup truck and all the times I heard the overplayed 'Smoke On The Water'; I will always remember Deep Purple. Little did I know that the band was much deeper than one of their shallowest of numbers; the depth of this particular purple was quite unparalleled. At first listen the iconic vocals of Ian Gillan and guitars of the incomparable Ritchie Blackmore hit you; but with repeated listens following this you would realize that Deep Purple had something to set itself apart from most of their crowd; Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin did not have keyboards, and they most certainly lacked someone of Jon Lord's ilk. The hammond organ became a staple of hard rock and metal music because of people like him and here a few reasons why.

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Lord would not act like some other organ players we know of today; he would step out from behind his band mates and take them to school and prove that his particular instrument of choice was to be an integral part of his band's music. This inclusion brought the band out to a large and grand scale and helped them to attain the name of "The Loudest Band In The World" in 1972 for their show at the London Rainbow Theatre. It was not only Deep Purple he would help out though as he met the next vocalist of the band in 1974 for the Burn album; namely David Coverdale. He and his boogie and funk style were not a welcome sight for Ritchie Blackmore who eventually left to form his new band in conjunction with the band Elf and became Rainbow. Lord and Coverdale however stayed with the band for 2 more albums and then created future sensations Whitesnake.

Lord and Coverdale stayed together for the better part of 6 albums before he left after the recording of what some call Whitesnake's best album, Slide It In. Deep Purple reformed for the poorly received Perfect Strangers (critically) album and remained there for 5 more albums following this and he eventually retired from the band in 2002. He was also notable for his composing of music as well as adding classical (Child In Time especially) influences to rock music. His contributions are too numerous to put into a small tribute article but I would like to just leave you with some quotes from musicians and former band members, as well as songs that prove the debt music owes him as a whole.

Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple guitarist):

"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."

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Ian Gillan (Deep Purple Vocalist)

"He was just an amazing character and, I suppose, the godfather of DEEP PURPLE, and we all looked up to him with tremendous admiration," Iansaid. "If there was such a thing as a typical English gentleman in rock music, then it was Jon Lord. We've all been touched by Jon one way or another — anyone who's involved in music, not only the fans, but also behind the scenes. We all know Jon for the inspiration and the incredible talent that he was. I could speak for hours about what he's given us. We shall carry his memory forward and his music, of course."

David Coverdale (Whitesnake/Deep Purple vocalist)

"It was an absolute joy and pleasure for me to know him and to work alongside him. He is missed already."

Lars Ulrich of Metallica

Ever since my father took me to see them in 1973 in Copenhagen, at the impressionable age of 9, Deep Purple has been the most constant, continuous and inspiring musical presence in my life. They have meant more to me than any other band in existence, and have had an enormous part in shaping who I am. So obviously I'm beyond bummed, saddened and devastated by today's news of the untimely passing of keyboardist Jon Lord.

We can all be guilty of lightly throwing adjectives like "unique," "one-of-a-kind" and "pioneering" around when we want to describe our heroes and the people who've moved us, but there are no more fitting words than those right now and there simply was no musician like Jon Lord in the history of hard rock. Nobody. Period.

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There was nobody that played like him. There was nobody that sounded like him. There was nobody that wrote like him. There was nobody that looked like him. There was nobody more articulate, gentlemanly, warm, or fucking cooler that ever played keyboards or got anywhere near a keyboard. What he did was all his own. Including obviously his unique sound. Whatever it was he did with that Hammond organ, the way the Leslie distorted what he was playing and pushed it to some unheard of place, the way he attacked it while he was throwing it around, and whatever the fuck else it was that was going down between Jon and "The Beast", as he called his organ, it was unlike anything before, during or after. That simple.

Deep Purple of course was also an entity all their own, always unpredictable, often impulsive, never repetitive and most of the time, other worldly. I had the good fortune of seeing them three times in Copenhagen between ’73 and ’75, numerous times again on the reunion runs in ’85 and ’87. We even played a couple of gigs in Germany with them in the summer of ’87 and needless to say, every time was an experience that had a major impact on me. Seeing Jon on stage right playing the riffs, the colorings, the textures, the next level solos, intros, outros, blues bits, classical pieces and whatever else came into his head each night AND on top of that keeping up with Ritchie Blackmore song after song, night after night, was the sign of the master of his craft . . . the most accomplished, original and unique hard rock keyboardist that ever walked this planet.

In 1992 when we played Munich on the Black Album tour, Jon Lord and lead singer, Ian Gillan came down to the show and stood in the snake pit the whole time. I was in heaven. Performing in front of members of the band that had meant more to me than anything in my life was a dream come true. And when I got a signed note after the show that they had had to leave and get back to their milk and cookies and be ready for the recording sessions the next day, I was simply beyond psyched. My hero(es) in the fuckin snake pit.!!!!! "Look Mom, on top of the fuckin world!!"

….Full circle for the impressionable 9 year old from KB Hallen in Copenhagen in February '73.

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Rest in peace Jon and THANK YOU for everything,
Lars

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