A week before he died this past July, former DEEP PURPLE keyboardist Jon Lord gave his last-ever interview, to Classic Rock, for the U.K. magazine's September 2012 issue. During the chat, Lord seemed optimistic about his prognosis a year after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."When you get to my age, the cancer is very slow moving," he said. "It's containable. My oncologist has had patients who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 15 or 16 years ago. They still have treatment and they still have cancer — but, crucially, they're still here. They found my cancer early and the size of the tumor has reduced." Lord was resigned to the fact that he might not ever be cured him and was aiming for containment. At the time of the interview, the treatment appeared to be working. "I'd like to get to my father's age," he said. "He was in his late 80s and he'd led a good life. I don't want to limp to that milestone. I don't want to drag myself over that line. I want to be active and well." Lord revealed that somewhere, buried in the mountain of cards and emails and get-well messages he received after being diagnosed with cancer, was one from a long-lost friend now living in Long Island, New York: a certain guitar player called Ritchie Blackmore. "He sent me a very nice letter and it was lovely to hear from him," Lord said of his former DEEP PURPLE bandmate. "My life and Ritchie's life have departed from each other so radically in the past 20 years. He's gone his way and I've gone mine. But we went through a lot together. We will always have that." He continued, "Would I like to play with him again? I'd love to — there's a legion of people out there who want him to pull on that white Strat again — but I'm not holding my breath. Besides, I know more than most you should do what you want to do. Ritchie is doing that. Good luck to him."