Sad day in rock & roll: tributes paid to Deep Purple's Jon Lord
Lord's death at 71 sees passing of 'one of the biggest, baddest, heaviest sounds in heavy metal'
TRIBUTES have been paid overnight to the organist and songwriter Jon Lord, who has died from pancreatic cancer at 71. He founded Deep Purple and co-wrote their most famous song, Smoke On The Water.
Former Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman, a friend of Lord's, said: "His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly".
Former Gun N'Roses guitarist Slash said the passing of "one of the biggest, baddest, heaviest sounds in heavy metal" was a "sad day in rock & roll".
Lord announced last year he was "fighting cancer and will therefore be taking a break from performing". But he assured fans: "I shall of course be continuing to write music - in my world it just has to be part of the therapy - and I fully expect to be back in good shape next year."
However, as The Times reports, his family issued a statement yesterday announcing that "Jon passes from Darkness to Light" and that he died "surrounded by his loving family".
Born in Leicester, Lord moved to London at 19 to attend drama school but instead found himself drawn to the music world. In 1964, he joined cult blues band Artwood, formed by Ronnie Wood's brother Art. After their break-up, and a brief stint touring with psychedelic pop combo the Flowerpot Men, he founded Deep Purple in 1968.
His fusion of rock with classical music features heavily in Deep Purple's records. The band sold more than 100 million albums and performed a composition of his at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
After their split in 1976, Lord went on to play with Paice Ashton & Lord, White Snake and, eventually, a reformed Deep Purple.
Many musicians have taken to Twitter to express their condolences. Ex-Rage Against the Machine star Tom Morello praised Lord's "great, great songs and that incredible SOUND of his! Thank you". Bryan Adams called Lord an "incredible organist".
BBC music presenter 'Whispering' Bob Harris said: "So sad to hear that Jon Lord has passed away. He was a gentleman."