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Founding Deep Purple Keyboard Player Jon Lord Dies at 71

Deep Purple-Jon Lord
Patrick Riviere, Getty Images

There’s sad news to report as legendary Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord has passed away at the age of 71. A statement at the musician’s official website reports that the musician suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism in London on Monday (July 16) after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Lord was a founding member of Deep Purple in 1968 and he co-wrote some of the band’s most famous tunes, including ‘Smoke on the Water,’ and later enjoyed a solo career after his retirement from Deep Purple in 2002. The band split in 1976, but Lord was with them when they reformed in 1984 and they went on to record six more studio albums with him as part of the lineup.

In addition to Deep Purple, Lord performed with David Coverdale as part of metal favorites Whitesnake between 1978 and 1984, and his synth and organ work with both bands would influence metal musicians for years to come. With Whitesnake, he would appear on the albums ‘Trouble,’ ‘Lovehunter,’ ‘Ready an’ Willing,’ ‘Come an’ Get It,’ ‘Saints & Sinners,’ and the standout disc, ‘Slide it In.’

The keyboardist also recorded a pair of solo records in the ’80s, with ‘Before I Forget’ being a mainstream rock album and the other being a soundtrack for the TV series ‘Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.’ His career also included a number of orchestral recordings, as ‘Pictured Within’ and ‘Beyond the Notes’ became highly regarded releases in his catalog.

Lord’s website stated that he was “surrounded by his loving family” at the time of his death. He had been planning a comeback show July 12, but had to cancel the performance due to his ailing health. The keyboardist is survived by his wife Vickie and two daughters – Amy and Sara.

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