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Very sad news: Jon Lord is dead

Founder of Deep Purple, Jon Lord also wrote symphonic scores that were authoritatively performed and recorded (in the clip below, the conductor is the symphonic composer Malcolm Arnold. Jon, 71, had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

His website carries the following announcement and picture:

It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.

Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with many bands and musicians throughout his career.

Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.

Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

Jon passes from Darkness to Light.

Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012.

Here‘s a link to the Malcolm Arnold/Jon Lord friendship.

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  1. richard carlisle says:

    His hit from the late ’60s, “Rush”, quite improvisational and still sometimes heard on rock stations today.

    • richard carlisle says:

      Oops— Make that “Hush” (sp)…. my five-year-old son and I on our way to Rhode Island in a 1957 Porsche heard it for the first time; neither has forgotten that day and that sound.

  2. After the premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s BSO Commission, ‘Lightness and Weight’, at what was then called Poole Arts Centre (now ‘Lighthouse, Poole’),my wife Jo and I, long friends with Jonathan, were invited for a meal, courtesy of the BSO on Poole Quay after the event. And there was Jon Lord, who I’d admired as a symphonic rock ‘bridge’ but hadn’t associated with Jonathan’s music, and also hadn’t realised how much Jon revered Jonathan’s work (although now with hindsight it seems quite clear and logical). So we spent a long, happy evening discussing synergies. I will remember that evening, and Jon. God bless him.

  3. I remember Deep Purple. My mate Trevor was into them and had a few albums. I got Machine Head, and remember songs like “Smoke on the Water”, “Highway Star”, and “Lazy”. I can bring to mind some of the lyrics. Checking the discography at Wikiwotsit, I see “Space Truckin”, which I can’t bring to mind, but which I seem to recall struck me at the time. I think it was largely instrumental (I’ll check later unless someone wants to confirm or correct me here – cheating I know, but there’s too much to do in my available time, and I have this ridiculous habit of pushing it to the limit – I used to run to catch the bus, having ascertained the minimum time needed. Ran to catch the train often too, diving into the guards van at the last minute. Don’t do that now, but same tendencies: “ooh, there’s five more minutes, what can I do…”).

    I will be checking out the Concerto for Group and Orchestra. Had a brief look on UsedLube, and I’m impressed man.

  4. Bob Bishop says:

    The original Albert Hall performance of the Concerto was amazing. Malcolm Arnold was swimming in unfamiliar water but kept his head above it and the orchestra pulled their weight. The atmosphere was electric and the audience reception enthusiastic. The critics were already starting to complain about the excesses of prog rock but it was clear on the night that this was something special.

  5. Nick Hallam says:

    I had the pleasure of working with Jon on the 2007 Malcolm Arnold Festival in Northampton.

    I had commissioned him to recreate the 1969 concert (with Arnold’s 6th Symphony) and he was an fantastic person to work with. Nothing was too much trouble and he was incredibly supportive of the festival as a whole. He had been very grateful to Malcolm for taking his Concerto seriously (when few others did) and offering to conduct it in the first place and hadn’t forgotten that in all the intervening years.

    The concert itself with the RPO was an amazing event – and he sang the praises of the orchestra. He actually told me he thought that they had sight read it better in rehearsals than they had played it in the concert in ’69. But my overriding recollection of the event will be of an unpretentious lovely man who just loved playing music.

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