Rick Wakeman, the English keyboard player, composer and songwriter best known as the former keyboardist in the progressive rock band YES, has released the following statement regarding the passing of former DEEP PURPLE/WHITESNAKE keyboardist Jon Lord:
"I first became aware of Jon Lord in the mid-Sixties when 'Hush' was released and I bought the album 'Shades Of Deep Purple', which was an album way ahead of its time. For obvious reasons, I paid special attention to the organ style and sound as it was quite different from how other Hammond players were using the instrument. I became a genuine admirer and fan of Jon that day and remained so with everything he did.
"We became real friends just a few years ago, although we had met on numerous occasions prior to that. We did talks together at music conservatories, we met for lunch and most importantly made music together. We wrote a piece 12 months ago for the Sunflower Jam at the Royal Albert Hall. We wrote this piece together at John Henry's rehearsal studios in London and it was so easy because we had such different styles and because Jon was concentrating heavily on the Hammond and I on synthesizers, the blend was quite magical. The piece was performed just the once and I am told was filmed, although I have never seen the footage.
"We sat in the dressing room which we shared at the Royal Albert Hall and made plans to do an album together. We were both utterly convinced that we could come up with something very special as our styles blended so well together. Our love of classical music and also working that style within that of rock music also completed the bond. We arranged to meet up later that month.
"One week before we were due to meet, Jon called me with the news he was ill. He was very positive and actually said he'd never felt better in his life and so he would beat it however long it took and so to bear with our project which went on hold.
"We spoke a couple of times after that and the last message I got was that he was responding well to his treatment. The news [yesterday] has hurt me like no other loss of a musician I have known. I can only thank him for the legacy he has left us all with his great music, great vision and for his kindness as he was one of the most gentle and kind persons I have ever had the pleasure of being able to call my friend.
"My heart goes out to Vickie, his wife, and all his family."
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.