Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jon Lord - Deep Purple Legend

Something happened in the realm of music in 1968 that sent waves through history that helped form and transform music forever.  Within the confines of rock music were legends that were so entrenched that it looked like no one could match them.  Think about the music scene at that time, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Iron Butterfly and an upstart band named Deep Purple sat in pop culture. 

Deep Purple entered 1968 with the release of their first album, "Shades of Deep Purple", in July a rock icon was born.  The lineup included Richie Blackmore, Nick Simper, Rod Evans, Ian Paice and Jon Lord.  Lord, was a classically trained pianist, an accomplished composer as well as a member of Whitesnake and the Flower Pot Men (and many others).  Jon Lord was more than just keyboard player, no, he was so much more.

What he was can be classified as one of the most important bands in rock history.  As a member of Deep Purple Lord was its backbone.  Seventeen seconds into the classic Deep Purple track "Highway Star", the song goes from that metal feel (dah, dah, dah, dah, dah) to a very sophisticated piece of music.  That is not an easy task and as you hear the keyboard solo, yes I said keyboard solo, Lord's importance, and skill shine.  Isn't it ironic that a band with such a foundation in "metal" can take such an instrumental turn.  As I listen to the song I can almost see the birth of these melodic metal songs and bands.  A band like "Dream Theater" for instance has that larger, more melodic sound and they too are almost a thinking man's metal.

As I wandered about YouTube searching for examples of Deep Purple songs remade by others, I was amazed at how much their songs differ when done by bands that don't include that keyboard element.  Another great example of that would be "Smoke On The Water".  With that Hammond organ sitting firmly in the backside of the song it becomes obvious why that song feels like it does.  Don't get me wrong, Blackmore's guitar is brilliant but the songs take on a special element inside that keyboard.  Smoke On The Water is such an iconic song (my daughter even learned those iconic first chords in FOURTH GRADE Guitar Club) but the song rests on those keyboards.

The importance of Lord is felt through all of Deep Purple's music but I think the best example of it is in "Woman From Tokyo".  From the beginning you can feel the soul of Deep Purple and that of Lord.  Its incredible when you realize the talent Lord had and in this one song it is showcased.  My theory is easily proven by just listening to the song and imagining what it would sound like without Lord and his keyboards.

During the reign of Deep Purple rock music employed keyboards much more than today and I think that is really what separates then and now.  Bands like the Doors brilliantly employed keyboards and Deep Purple was no different.  It is really possible that Lord was a key to the bands success and an influence that would last for decades.  Lord really was more important musically than many would believe, and even further evidence can be found in those bands he has played in and those bands that he and his Deep Purple mates influenced.

Its mind blowing when you realize that his body of work outside of Deep Purple included work with The Kinks ("You Really Got Me"), Nazareth, Whitesnake, Cozy Powell, David Gilmour, Ian Gillan, and Richie Blackmore (to name just a few).  His influence on heavy metal, psychedelic rock, and jazz fusion (and so many other genres) is a testament not only to the performer and his talent but also to his tenacious efforts to be the best at his craft whilst remaining grounded as a man.  For a man that did so much musically in a multitude of genres, as well as being a member of one of the greatest bands in rock history (no not just rock history, music history defines it perfectly) Lord and his Deep Purple band mates have yet to receive an accolade that they are so deserving of:  admission in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Its mind blowing when you think that a band with such deep roots in music history has yet to be selected for the RNRHOF.  It truly is a travesty that Deep Purple has yet to be recognized in such a manner and once again the question arises, WHY?  How does a band with these credentials and with musicians that are really rock legends not get admitted?  If Deep Purple does get admitted in the next few years it will seem hollow and contrived.  Ask any Chicago Cubs fan if Ron Santo should have been admitted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame before his untimely death, then ask them if it seems like his posthumous election seems like an "I'm sorry" selection.

Lord had been battling pancreatic cancer (following his diagnosis in 2011), he passed on July 16th, 2012 from a pulmonary embolism.  Lord is survived by his wife and two daughters.



  2. R.I.P. Jon Lord. I saw them at LoopFest several years ago, unfortunately Richie wasn't with them. A talented and deserving band that should be in the HOF.