Jon Lord From Deep Purple Dies At 71

Tributes to the influential keyboardist have been pouring in after he died yesterday after suffering from cancer since last August. Learn about his legacy here.

Ultimate Guitar

Jon Lord, the respected founding keyboardist for Deep Purple, died yesterday aged 71.

He had been receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer since last August, but died after suffering a "pulmonary embolism" a common side effect of the cancer he suffered.

Jon co-founded Deep Purple in 1968, but his career started in the early 1960s where his band The Artwoods found success with the single "I Take What I Want". In 1967 he formed a group with Ronnie Wood who later joined the Rolling Stones, but soon went on to form the band that truly made his name.

Deep Purple regularly switched members, but Jon remained a consistent member alongside drummer Ian Paice. One of their biggest hits, "Smoke On The Water", remains something of a rite of passage for new guitarists.

The band split after eight years, but reformed in their classic lineup in 1984. Their tours were a huge success, and he continued with the band until 2002 when his request to have a year break from touring was apparently declined.

Throughout his career, Jon worked on several solo albums. Many were orchestral, and worked alongside the likes of Tony Iommi, Jason Newstead and Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain.

Tributes from rock stars have been pouring in since his death yesterday. Here's a selection to highlight how influential Jon really was:

Slash: "[It's a] sad day in rock and roll; Jon Lord has passed on. One of the biggest, baddest, heaviest sounds in heavy metal. One of a kind."

Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath: "[I was] very sad to hear of Jon's death, following his battle with the demon cancer. [He was] one of the great musicians of my generation."

Tom Morello, Rage Against The Machine: "RIP the great Jon Lord, Deep Purple's cornerstone/keyboardist. So many great great songs and that incredible SOUND of his! Thankyou."

Jordan Rudess, Dream Theater: "I'm very sad to hear about the passing of Jon Lord. He was an inspiration to me!"

Dee Snider, Twisted Sister: "I just found out that Jon Lord from Deep Purple passed away. What an amazing musician and a true gentleman. We lost a great one RIP."

Pay your tributes to Jon Lord in the comments. Meanwhile, enjoy this clip of him on stage:

YouTube preview picture

75 comments sorted by best / new / date

    R.I.P. Jon. He was one of the, if not the absolute, finest keyboard players of the 20th century. He was the sole man responsible for making keyboards an acceptable instrument in hard rock and metal. Long live the legend that is Jon Lord. We'll see you in heaven brother!
    **** you R&R HoF for not inducting Deep Purple! we could had one more chance to see him play with DP
    R.I.P. Was pretty shocked to find out, he was one of my favourite keyboard players.
    Absolute legend. Rest In Peace, dude. The last thing I saw him on was a track he did with Tony Iommi a couple of years back, and I hoped hoped hoped that they'd for some kind of supergroup. It was AMAZING. Just found it.
    We lost two musical greats yesterday, Jon Lord and Funk Brother's bassist Bob Babbitt. RIP Gentlemen.
    Jon Lord had a profound impact on me. My band cover Burn almost everywhere we play , and I play the organ solo on the bass since we don't have a keyboardist. Each time I play it , I realize that the guy was such a genius , and was extremely sad to hear of his passing.At least he was past his prime and died surrounded by his family and friends. RIP.
    Jon was always my favorite keyboard player. I almost every day listen to Machine Head or Fireball albums and I enjoy his and Ritchie's solos. It's a pity he had to go.. but, better for him maybe, if he would have to live with pain from cancer :/ time has just come.. Pity that greatest musicians can't live forever! R.I.P. Jon
    I hope the elitist ****ing pigs at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame are hanging their heads in shame right now. Rest In Peace to a true legend.
    Such a saddening loss of one of the founding fathers of hard rock & heavy metal. Jimi, John, Cliff & Randy now have their key basher at the greatest gig in the afterlife. RIP Jon :'(
    RIP! That solo in Highway Star, and those insane sounds he coaxed out of the organ on Lazy still give me shivers.
    He was the first and only keabordist to blown me away with his playing when I was seeing a Deep Purple concert. A great musician that will never be forgotten. RIP Jon Lord.
    One of the first keyboard players to define the sound of an insanely distorted Hammond B3 organ. I got "Made in Japan" for my bday in 1972 and listened to it over and over that long hot summer. Thanks for creating one of the most amazing sounds I'd ever heard. RIP
    A fantastic servant to music. Granted I don't listen to Deep Purple very much, sometimes you have to admire such incredible musicians. May you rest in peace Jon.
    What a ****ing beast. He proved just how heavy an organ can be. His passing has inspired me to look up hammond organ videos all day, and his sound was one of my favorites. RIP Jon
    Btw, cancer ****ing sucks. How many awesome people will this stupid disease take away from us? Sending double of my best wishes over Iommi, now.
    I was shocked when I heard this. I'll spend this week by listening to his material, starting off with Shades of Deep Purple. R.I.P. Jon Lord, you will be missed.
    Oh god no.Mr lord thank you some of the most memorable piano solos.And on a personal note thank you for making me appreciate piano,keyboard as an instrument and ergo music in general. RIP
    The RnR Hall of Fame (Shame) will now induct Deep Purple because he is dead. Gotta love the sympathy vote! RIP Jon, respect musicians while there alive, shouldn't take a death to make them special, such a talent.
    It's a bit refreshing to come into a UG article and not see a single comment I'd thumbs-down. You guys are alright. RIP, dude. You paved the way for all my favourite music. I owe you one.
    Man, Highway Star was that one song that got me into the band, and those solos made me love the keyboard as much as the guitar. Rest In Peace Jon. You did great as a musician.
    J.R. Legrasse
    What a loss. Check out the '74 California Jam concert (w/ the Mark III line-up of Coverdale/Hughes)and witness Mr. Lord's bombastic keyboard solo. Truly a highlight in a show full of highlights. And I concur with the damning of the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Shame. That Deep Purple, of all bands, isn't among the inductees by now is incomprehensible. They've been more influential and innovative to rock music than, say, Eric B & Rakim and Madonna. (eyes roll off face and onto the floor)
    This man, and the relatively recently passed Richard Wright, are the reason why I started playing keyboards in the beginning, my first instrument. This man, as others have said, is the sole reason why the keyboard can be a plausible instrument in his genre, and others - especially the advent of the invention of the "burly beast" as he called it - the Hammond B3 sent through a Marshall stack. Rest in piece. I wish the very best for all present cancer sufferers - including Tony Iommi, and others.
    Blacken Light
    Jon Lord was a pioneer and truly defined Deep Purples sound. The best Keyboard player Hard Rock/Metal has ever known....From what I saw of the man in interviews he was also a Humble, sincere Gentleman....He transformed the Keyboards from a rhythm/backing piece into a Thundering Lead Instrument and made it accepted and applauded in his genre of Music....The world, not just music has lost a huge talent
    R.I.P. Thanks for all the great DP moments, none better than Highway Star.
    I bet that He is having a hell of a gig alongside the others great musicians who aren't with us wherever they are. RIP Jon Lord.