Black Sabbath Bassist Pays Tribute To Former Deep Purple Keyboardist Jon Lord

Black Sabbath bass player Terry “Geezer” Butler has posted a message online paying tribute to founding Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, who passed away earlier today after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Butlers message reads as follows:

“Very sad to hear of Jon’s death, following his battle with the demon cancer. One of the great musicians of my generation. (Black Sabbath guitarist) Tony Iommi recently worked with Jon, and said what a lovely bloke he was. I met him a few times, but never got to work with him. Blessings.”

Lord was diagnosed with the illness last year and most recently had been working with Iommi and Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan amongst others on the WhoCares supergroup.

Jon Lord’s official website has posted the following message:

“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 Douglas Lord was born in Leicester, England, on June 9th, 1941. His first active contact with music was through the family piano, where he took classical music lessons from a very early age. As a teenager he strayed from the path after being subjected to the charms of jazz organ players such as Jimmy Smith and rock n roll piano-playing pioneers such as Jerry Lee Lewis.

In 1963, Jon joined Red Blood and his Bluesicians and acquired his first electric organ. By the next year he occupied the keyboard spot in the seminal Artwoods, led by Art Wood, brother of future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. The Artwoods struggled for the next three years, releasing several singles and EPs and a now highly collectible album titled Art Gallery.

Lack of success led to the Artwoods splitting up, after failing a last attempt at cracking the charts under the alias St.Valentine’s Day Massacre. Ronnie Wood then recruited Jon, Twink and Kim Gardner for a short-lived endeavor named Santa Barbara Machine Head who recorded three instrumental tracks that only surfaced on a various artists’ compilation, the band having failed to secure a recording contract. Pop stardom (of sorts) was just around the corner.

The Flowerpot Men, a more or less manufactured pop vocal ensemble, had a psychedelic hit and needed a backing band to help them out on the road. They recruited Jon to complete a band consisting of, among others, bassist Nick Simper (future founder member of Deep Purple) and drummer Carlo Little. The Flowerpot Men’s backing band was called, appropriately enough in those pre-ironic times, The Garden.

Then came Chris Curtis and Deep Purple. Between 1968 and 1976 Purple was one of the world’s most popular and creative bands, with Jon occupying a pivotal role both in the studio and onstage, through every permutation of the band’s line up.

In between albums and tours, he found time for quite a bit of classically themed solo work, with albums such as The Gemini Suite and First of the Big Bands. When Purple split in 1976, he delivered his finest solo work to date in the shape of the Sarabande album.

Shortly after, Jon formed Paice Ashton Lord with Purple drummer Ian Paice and longtime friend and musical collaborator the late, great Tony Ashton. After one album, Malice in Wonderland, PAL split up and Jon went to Whitesnake. During Whitesnake’s down time, Jon guested on albums by Cozy Powell, Graham Bonnet and others, and released another excellent solo album, Before I Forget.

Then came Deep Purple’s reformation. Between 1984 and the present, Purple’s career has been a roller coaster ride of six studio albums, literally thousands of live concerts all over the world, five different line ups and album sales in excess of 150 million units.

Aschaffenburg 05 by Helmut OlschlegelJon found time to write and record the highly personal Pictured Within album and eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002 to concentrate on his solo work, playing with Deep Purple for the last time in Ipswich, England, on 19th September 2002. That was a highly emotional night, one that signified a new chapter in the careers of both Deep Purple and Jon Lord.

“I’m going to have myself a long and vibrant solo career,” Jon said that night, and he’s set his sights on fulfilling that promise. Since then he’s dotted his energies across shows in Australia, Europe and Scandinavia, released one solo album and scored a number of new musical pieces.

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