Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jon Lord, 1941 - 2012





Jon Lord, keyboard player and a founding member of Deep Purple, has passed away following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71.





If you've been following me for any considerable length of time, then you know that Deep Purple has been my favorite group since around my 14th birthday. I've seen them in concert numerous times, have most of their recordings (I would gladly say "all of their recordings", but there are loads and loads of them out there, so suffice to say I have everything they recorded in the studio and a very fair representation of their live output), and they were the group that truly awakened in me an affinity for hard rock and heavy metal. It was my great good fortune to stumble upon these most-talented practitioners upon my initial discovery of such stuff existing.





I had no real desire to be a musician prior to hearing their work. After listening to "Highway Star", there was little else I did want. I owe my many thousands of hours of pleasure, playing the bass and the keyboards and the guitar and the drums and singing and whatever else I've dabbled in, to Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord, and Paice.

(Not to give short shrift to the other folks who have been part of the Purple line-up at various times, but it was that fivesome who inspired me.)

My first foray into rock, as a musician, came as a keyboard player and vocalist, and that was directly because of how Jon Lord blew me away with his organ soloing on the Machinehead album. To this day, my favorite keyboard solo is his from Highway Star.





(Ritchie Blackmore's guitar solo is always cited when folks start mentioning the best guitar solos in rock, but I contend that Lord's keyboard solo was just as magnificent and groundbreaking in its own way. Lord was utterly unafraid to explore the very edges of his instrument's sonic capabilities. He, like Hendrix for electric guitar, gave the organ an entirely unheard-before palette of sound. To this day, many casual listeners will hear Lord's chording on a Deep Purple recording and mistakenly take it for guitar.)

His virtuosity as a soloist, and as an improviser, was stunning. Watching him trade licks with latter-day DP guitarist Steve Morse was almost transcendental. Morse would reel off something lightning fast, Lord would immediately return it, Morse would come up with something new, and so on. They'd do this for a two minute stretch and it was mindbending stuff.





My musical heart is broken today.

Rest In Peace, Jon.



23 comments:

innominatus said...

>>>To this day, my favorite keyboard solo is his from Highway Star.

Ditto. I'm no keyboardist - if ya give me a second, I might be able to find middle C - but key work in Highway Star is excellent. Plus, it sticks in my head really well, so now we know what song my brain will be playing for the rest of the day. :)

Buck said...

I love a man who loves... and mourns... his musical heroes. (In that brotherly way, of course)

Well said, brilliant selections.

Stephen Hayes said...

Jon Lord will be missed. The end of an era.

Cricket said...

My condolences, my swell pal... and I mean that, of course, as I spent at least a month revisiting all my favorite Miles Davis recordings... or later, George Harrison. And I still have the Boston Globe from the day John Lennon was killed.

Still, that sound of an organ through a Marshall will live on, no?

silly rabbit said...

You broke my musical heart with this news too!
As soon as I saw your title I gasped and my brain yelled Nooooo!
You give him a good send off, though. Far better than I could ever do. All I can say is that he was awesome. I can't speak for anyone else, but I will never forget him.
Deep Purple is one of the foundations of my life's sound track. So many great memories are attached to them. In fact, just this past weekend we drug out our Deep Purple albums.
Well crap.

Quirkyloon said...

What a great send off.

Smoke On The Water: an iconic classic rock song.

But you being a true fan, know so much more.

Awesome! Just awesome.

You made a rock angel happy today.

Craig said...

My sympathies, my friend. A skilled keyboardist is a wonderful thing, and the world is a poorer place for losing one. (When I get to work, I'll check out the embedded vids; the sound card on my home 'puter is busted at the moment. . .)

I never really 'got' the hard rock/heavy metal thing, and my knowledge of Deep Purple pretty much starts and ends with 'Smoke on the Water'. And that Ian Gillan was Jesus in the original 'Superstar' recording. But I've played a keyboard or two in my day, and I do appreciate a good player.

I always liked Ray Manzarek's keyboard work with The Doors. And Keith Emerson, most definitely. . .

messymimi said...

My condolences to his family and fans, it's a sad day for all of us.

Daryl Edelstein said...

may he rest in peace

lime said...

i woke up this morning and heard the report of his death on NPR. i immediately thought of you and knew this would hit your heart. may he indeed rest in peace.

Michelle H. said...

While he isn't playing any longer on Earth, I'm sure he is rocking his soul out in Heaven without dealing with such a horrible sickness any longer. Great tribute to your idol.

If I were God... said...

Rock n Roll will never die.

Barbara Shallue said...

I'm so sorry to hear of his death. This is a wonderful tribute - he was so talented and I'm sorry I never got to hear him play live. Thanks for sharing his music with us. May he rest in peace, free to rock without pain.

Anonymous said...

Like you and Innominatus said, his solo on "Highway Star" is fantastic; heard it again Saturday. RIP Jon.

Uncle Skip, said...

I'd all but forgotten Deep Purple. My bad. Now I have to go revisit, particularly for those keyboard moments.

Hilary said...

I'm so sorry you're hurting. You wrote a lovely tribute to a tremendous talent.

silly rabbit said...

I forgot to thank you for the videos! They were a wonderful treat. =:]

Maggie May said...

Although it was in my son's day......, I did like the music from Deep Purple and it is a great pity that Jon Lord has passed away.
Damn this blasted cancer.
Sorry to hear you are really hurting by it but glad you were inspired by them when you were a young lad.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Tabor said...

What a nice tribute. It seems so many of our idols are now moving on.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

{{Hugs}}, I'm sure he will always live on in your heart and your music.
Peace, Judi

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

I fear we are at the age where we are going to be losing more of our favorite musicians from our youth. I'm a Rolling Stones fan and they are all 70ish now too. Unbelievable. I am so glad to have grown up with the music we had.

Thanks for the chance to appreciate Jon Lord and his music once again.

Suldog said...

Boomer - I'm afraid you're right. So far as I can recall at the moment, though, this is the first of my favorites (and I mean those I have on multiple recordings and saw in concert more than once) to die of what might be termed "natural causes" (even though cancer is way more nasty than to deserve that term.) Most of the others - Hendrix, Moon, whomever else - died young and, more or less, of their own hand. I guess that's why this hit me so hard.

CiCi said...

This post tells a tale of your musical life, and I for one am grateful to Jon Lord for sharing his talent with us. We can all be grateful for the many years and the music that we can listen to over and over.