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Deep Purple keyboard player dies

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

His work with Deep Purple brought classical music to the hard rock arena, thrilling stadiums full of rowdy fans with complex feats of keyboard wizardry. Keyboard player Jon Lord, has lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Born in Leicester, England in 1941, Lord vowed to make the classical music lessons he took as a child to pay off. Enamored with the sound of the blues organ as a teenager, Lord seamlessly blended classical and blues music using a Hammond C3 organ, distorting the sound, and routing it through amplifiers.

Perhaps best known for penning the hard rock standard "Smoke on the Water," Lord never strayed far from his classical roots. The band's "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" in 1969 was one of Deep Purple's first chart successes.

With Lord on keyboard and Ritchie Blackmore on the guitar, Deep Purple left behind a string of rock classics that showcased their musicianship: "Space Truckin'," "Highway Star," "Child in Time."

Deep Purple ruled the hard rock pantheon with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, selling more than 100 million albums in the Seventies.

"We're as valid as anything by Beethoven," Lord said in an interview with NME magazine in 1973.

Lord retired from Deep Purple in 2002 to concentrate on solo material and collaborating with others. He lent his talents to a single by the super group WhoCares, featuring Purple singer Ian Gillan, Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted.

Lord posted a message to fans last August where he revealed he was fighting cancer and would be taking a break from performing.

"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," the message said.

He canceled a July 6 show in Germany where he was scheduled to perform with the Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra, with his Web site attributing it to "a continuation of his regular treatment."

Lord died this week at The London Clinic, surrounded by family members, the site said.

According to his Web site, Lord suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism, or a blockage of the lung artery.

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