DEEP PURPLE guitarist Steve Morse (pictured below) has released the following statement regarding the passing of former DEEP PURPLE/WHITESNAKE keyboardist Jon Lord:
"Jon just died. I'm shocked and don't know what to do, so I'm going to try to tell you a little about Jon.
"Jon was the powerhouse keyboard player that brought rock and classical directly together many times. The first was his timeless organ solo on 'Highway Star'. The next was his 'Concerto For Band And Orchestra'. I was able to perform with the whole band as it was played at Albert Hall before we toured extensively with it. Just weeks ago, I was able to play on a studio recording of Jon's concerto and share some heartfelt thoughts and words with him.
"Jon was the guy that would stop us from giving up on an idea in songwriting because it wasn't immediately obvious. I remember him encouraging me in the studio to keep doing what I was doing as I played around with an idea that I was intrigued with. After writing something as amazing as his concerto, he still had the imagination to hear ideas on top of anything I suggested. He always had a regal, gentlemanly manner. Like any of us, he could get annoyed, but he would only show it with his wry and dry wit. Mostly, he was upbeat and a pleasure for anybody to be around. His humor was right up my alley, with us exchanging ridiculous thoughts like, 'If Brenda Lee married Tommy Lee, her new name would be Brenda Lee...' Or having him finish the tune when an announcement at an airport would start with several musical notes to get your attention.
"It's hard to give anecdotes that convey an ease that somebody could give you, but he sure had that ability.
"We all love people that will pay attention to our kids, and years ago he charmed my (then) 5-year-old son Kevin with a Donald Duck imitation even while he was being hurried to get out of the dressing room and go to the green room for after show greetings.
"Jon retired from the endless DEEP PURPLE tour schedule, but continued to do appearances with original material and performances of his concerto. I knew he missed the band he helped start, but at the same time couldn't stand the relentless travel. From time to time, we would see him on tour, and he would sit in with us. The last time we played, less than a year ago, at the Sunflower Jam at Royal Albert Hall, he had just come offstage from performing with Rick Wakeman. Later I talked with him and his wife about how strange it felt to look around at the keyboards and not see him there at Albert Hall. We promised to do something together. Soon thereafter, we all learned of his battle with pancreatic cancer. I kept hearing hopeful, positive reports that they might be making progress, but this sudden death caught me totally unaware. I thought we would meet and do a recording project in the future when he recovered from the chemotherapy. Well, we sort of did, but I had to record it and send it to him, as we were in different countries.
"If you have friends, family, especially kids, don't ever miss a chance to do or say something special.... or simply appreciate the fact that they are there. One day, they won't be."
Jon Lord died yesterday (Monday, July 16) in a U.K. hospital at the age of 71. He suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism at the London Clinic after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was "surrounded by his loving family," a message on his official web site said.
In addition to DEEP PURPLE, Lord played in WHITESNAKE — the band led by ex-PURPLE singer David Coverdale — from 1978 to 1984, having appeared on the albums "Trouble", "Lovehunter", "Ready An' Willing", "Come An' Get It", "Saints & Sinners" and "Slide It In".
Jon Lord is survived by his wife Vickie and two daughters — Amy and Sara.