Original WHITESNAKE guitarist Bernie Marsden (pictured below) has released the following statement regarding the passing of former DEEP PURPLE keyboardist Jon Lord:
“June and July have been very busy, but all has been brought back to base with the loss of my great friend and colleague Jon Lord on Monday 16th July. Jon Lord was to many millions of people THE keyboard player in the great days of DEEP PURPLE, and so he was. But he was so much more than a musician.
“I first met the great man in 1976; I was auditioning for a gig with his new band PAICE, ASHTON AND LORD. I had seen the demise of PURPLE, attending gigs with both Ritchie [Blackmore] and Tommy Bolin, and so when I received a call from Cozy Powell regarding the new band I went for it. I went to an old cinema in West London, owned by ELP, Manticore. There I was ushered into a waiting room with about a dozen other guitar players, that story is not for this time, but is of interest.
“I entered the heady world of DPO, Jon was waiting in the room, smiling, strong handshake and a grin when he said, ‘You do exist then.’ I had been rather slow in following Cozy‘s instructions, ouch! Ian Paice was a few feet away, raised his hand to say hello, Tony Ashton was opposite Jon, two keyboards set up, and one was Jon Lord, now I knew this was going to be different.
“I had been listening to the guitar players going in before me, all pretty much trying to be Ritchie Blackmore, and failing! I thought I was on the right track when we played ‘How Long’ by Ace, Ian knew the groove, I sang it and Jon said to begin, after a couple of verses Jon stopped the proceedings. He came over to me and asked me to show him the changes in the bridge of the song, the great Jon Lord asking me to show him. I state this to show what a man he was, he could have worked out, probably had already, knew the changes backwards, but by asking me he instilled huge confidence in me.
“I played a lot of rhythm guitar, waiting for a nod from Jon to solo, took my time and tried to be as cool as I could. Bear in mind I am playing with Jon, and Ian Paice, this was quite a definitive moment for me. We played another couple of grooves, Ian came over and introduced himself, and Ashton kissed me on the forehead!
“Jon just smiled, said ‘thank you for coming down’ and that I would be hearing from them. He asked me if I knew any DEEP PURPLE songs, I thought I was about to lose the gig, I said, ‘Not really, I know a bit of ‘Dance On The Water’.’ He looked me in the eye, ‘Smoke On The Water’.’ he said, ‘Sorry,’ I said. They did call the next day.
“Jon Lord, great musician, raconteur, writer, funny, intelligent, gifted, family man, friend for life.
“Love to Vicky, Amy and Sara Lord.
“Rest in peace, my friend.”
Jon Lord died on Monday (July 16) at age 71 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Lord, who was known for his keyboard virtuosity and his reinvention of the Hammond B-3 organ sound, co-wrote such PURPLE classics as “Smoke On The Water” and “Child In Time”, among others. Lord and drummer Ian Paice were the only original members to last through the band’s initial run from 1968 to 1976. He was on board for their 1984 reunion and stayed on through to his 2002 retirement from the band, after which he’s worked primarily in the classical field.
Over the course of his career, Lord also worked with the ARTWOODS, FLOWER POT MEN, PAICE, ASHTON AND LORD, WHITESNAKE and good friend and neighbor, George Harrison.