Jon Lord (1941-2012)

Renowned Deep Purple keyboard player and composer dies aged 71


Jon Lord was the founding keyboard player of prog-rock band Deep Purple. He co-wrote many of the group’s most popular songs, including ‘Smoke on the Water’, and performed with several other bands during his long career, including Whitesnake and The Kinks.


Lord learnt classical piano from an early age, and when studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London he played piano and Hammond organ in clubs to pay the bills.  As a young man he was also strongly influenced by blues pianists and organists Jimmy McGriff and Jerry Lee Lewis.

As well as performing, Lord became well known for his groundbreaking works that fused prog-rock with classical music. Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra first performed his orchestral piece Concerto for Group & Orchestra in 1969.

Lord continued to perform with Deep Purple until their split in 1976, and then again when they reformed in 1984.

After retiring from Deep Purple in 2002, Lord returned to his classical roots and composed numerous ensemble and solo works. In 2007 he was commissioned by Durham University to compose a work in honour of its 175th anniversary. The result was an orchestral work, Durham Concerto, which included a Hammond organ – a reminder of Lord’s legendary days in Deep Purple.


Sophie Gadd