Jon Lord • Chance On A Feeling

I have said a few words myself on the site, but obviously Jon’s death has touched many. Here are a few from emails we’ve had. In the case of the famous names, you will find longer versions on their websites. The photo I took at Sheffield City Hall in 1974 is how I like to remember him, towering over the Hammond. Simon

Jon Lord City Hall Sheffield 1974

Added July 24:

Thank you for not only being part of the most dynamic music I ever heard, that changed my world and that of many others, but also for the most beautiful musical moments I ever had. You gave me a shot, took a chance and I will never forget those moments, nor how you both you and Tarquin mocked the Tartan suit I had bought for the occasion. The waistcoat is in Rio, the trousers in the closet.
There are those who have known you much longer and worked with you much harder but I will cherish those memories for all that remains for me.
Doogie White

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…”.
Steve Morse

Very difficult to believe that one of the mighty Mk2 has gone to that great gig in the sky.
I’ve been listening to Purple all this week, Child in Time, Perfect Strangers, Lazy, the list goes on but all and so many more familiar tunes have brought a tear to my eye and sent shivers down my spine. Jon’s sound and presence was massive and he was a huge part of the band, with his classically fused rock organ always putting an indelible but so musically engaging stamp on all of the bands recordings. I was lucky enough to meet Jon after the Harrogate 2002 show and he had time for a photo, an autograph and a chat.
Having seen Jon perform with Purple a dozen times I have many memories of that unmistakeable solo which would always be interesting, varied and often include snippets of a tune relevent to the city or country Purple were gigging in. I well remember more than a few bars of the Coronation Street theme at the Manchester gig in 1991. Then there were all the Blackmore / Lord duels with the thunderous rhythm section driving the band on, one thing for sure a Purple gig was always an unforgettable experience.
Of course Jon was also a huge presence in the classical world and more than made his mark and established an enviable reputation for being a very talanted composer, arranger & performer, playing with and writing for many famous musicians of the last 40 years including George Harrison and Abba’s Frida to name but a few.
Listening to Deep Purple will never be the same again, but I will always be eternally grateful for the inspiration, the memories, the friends I have known and the experiences I have shared from following Ian, Ritchie, Roger, Ian, Steve, Don and of course Jon, a real Lord of rock for the last 32 years. The music and meories are timeless and Jon and Deep Purple past and present will live on and on and on.
Richard Gillitt

You were my husband’s unlikely soul mate during the last years of his life. You talked with him about music and books and you made him laugh. You composed beautiful music for him and you played it at his funeral and at his memorial service.
To the rest of the world you were a star and an icon, but to your friends you were a gentle rock and a comfort and the days and evenings spent with you added incomparably to the joy in our lives.
You wrote the wedding march to which John walked our daughter Emily up the aisle and you accompanied him round England to play the music for his Mortimer’s Miscellany, eating sandwiches in car parks and
drinking champagne out of plastic cups together. That was real friendship!
Lady Mortimer (John Mortimer’s widow).

Added July 23:

Got a message from my almost 90 yr old Dad – he’d seen a news clip on NZ news re Jon’s passing, and he remembered him from me forcing the issue all those years ago. I remember when I bought BURN back in the day and he heard ‘What’s Goin on’ and he loved Jon’s piano – I thought it was a bit out of tune (I was pretty young!) but Dad (who was a huge Brubeck/Oscar Peterson fan) said it was really good! David Streeten

I remember the sense of excitement at Jon joining Whitesnake for the Trouble tour and album, the prospect of seeing Jon live (as with Paicey the year after) was a huge event for me personally, having been too young to see Purple first time around. Speed King at Knebworth was huge, as was Jon kicking into the fast solo in Space Truckin at Birmingham in 87. I supposeit was a bit easy to get blase’ thereafter as seeing Purple live became a regular event. Still, the memories will remain, but I’ll particularly miss Jon’s intelligence, wonderful sense of humour and those marvelous interviews he gave. Dave Billington.

I first met him over a lunch a couple of years ago.  Despite the generational gap and the vast difference in scholarly experience, we talked seamlessly about music, family, life and other things. Jon came across as someone who was on one hand a deeply private family man, and yet completely open and warm with everyone, who never expected special treatment and always gave his full attention to anyone he met.
I would see this time and again on tour with him – where he would have to be rescued by his manager from hotel lobbies and stage doors, or else he would be held back for hours and hours, speaking to everyone who wanted to meet him, give him gifts or have him sign the entire Deep Purple back catalogue.  I also noticed it leaving for my first tour with him to Russia, at Heathrow Terminal 5, where he patiently waited at the end of a long line of passengers to board the plane, until singer Steve Balsamo and I politely reminded him that he was flying business and he didn’t need to queue.  He looked almost ashamed and embarrassed as we ushered him to the front of the line.  I know people who have sold far fewer records and accumulated far fewer accolades who would not act with that kind of humility.
I think the sadness also comes from knowing that he had so much more to give to the world. There was so much music he talked about writing…and there was a Bach violin/piano Sonata he kept saying he wanted to play together. Most exciting of all,  at the Sunflower Jam he pulled me aside, absolutely high on adrenalin after an incredible musical battle with Rick Wakeman onstage: “I can’t believe I’ve never played with Rick before!! All these years where him and I were living parallel lives! There’s something there! I want to do a tour – will you come? Let’s start something! I want to write and record…Rick and I have been jamming in the dressing room all evening and there’s definitely something there!”.  It was just brilliant to see him talk like an excited 10 year boy about two grown men with a lifetime of successes, about all the stuff they wanted to do together!  Him and Rick were absolutely on cloud nine, as if they’d finally met their match. Anna Phoebe
You can read Phoebe’s thoughts in full on her site

Jon was not only a great musician, he was my favorite dinner companion. We are all deeply saddened. We knew he was sick but the word was that he was recovering and doing much better. This news came as a complete shock. Without Jon there would be no Deep Purple. He lives on in our hearts and memories. Ritchie Blackmore.

What to say?
Part of the soundtrack to my life has just been switched off, permanently. Regrets? Yes, on more than one occasion since Jon “retired” from the
Purps, I’ve meant to go and see him perform one of his new works, but time and tide have nixed it. I haven’t listened to any of his performances since yesterday. I can’t bring myself to do so, as I think I would crack up.
If I retain only one memory, then it will be the Concerto in 99. I drove all the way down from Carlisle (I was on holiday) with my wife, parked
up watched the performance and then went to a Travelodge and drove back the following day to continue the holiday. A lot of driving but absolutely worth it! We were in the gods looking down on the Orchestra going at full pelt, with the band more than matching them, it was absolutely riveting.
I never had the chance to meet Jon, but from all the interviews I have seen he came across as a lovely man, a real old school gentlemen (check
out his acceptance speech at Leicester University). Obviously it will be a personal tragedy for his family, but I do in a
real sense feel I’ve lost someone too. I will try to summon up the courage to listen to Sarabande tonight. It’s
always been my favourite solo work, hopefully it will be a joyful experience. Stuart Hadden

——–

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.
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.
The news today 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.
Rick Wakeman

(You can read Rick’s piece in full at his site : http://www.rwcc.com/notice_jonlord.asp). Thanks to Jamie Woodward.

Just heard the very sad news about Jon Lord passing away. So very sad even though it was expected. I feel so very sad about this as my own connection with Deep Purple goes back over forty odd years when I first saw Deep Purple on Top Of The Pops.
Oddly enough I was playing Pictured Within yesterday and I always think about my mum when I play that. That song is amongst many that trigger memories about my mum and now it will always remind me of Jon as well. I am also thinking about Jon the person who was so very kind and accomodating whenever I met him and also incredibly articulate and helpful when I did interviews with him.
He was a giant of course in the rock field through his work with Deep Piurple and Whitesnake but as a composer he was starting to become a major force I think.
As a personal aside I thought of all the guys in Deep Purple over the years I found it was  Jon who was the nicest and always had time for fans and many have already called him a true gentleman. Something I myself can totally agree with.
Jon Kirkman

Jon Lord, where to start? THE keyboard player of my life, always.
Nothing has ever or will ever send that tingle up my spine like the
growl of the beast starting up Perfect Strangers. The gentle
introduction to Child in Time, the swagger of Don’t Break my Heart
Again, the beauty of Pictured Within and the majesty of the Durham
Concerto.
Over the years I have seen Jon play live so many times, and had the
great fortune to meet him on several occasions. Always a truly
gracious gentleman, he has been an inspiration to thousands.
In 2009 after many years of seeing Jon at his work, he came to my
work, to take part in a performance of his Concerto for Group and
Orchestra with students from my college. Jon helped these young
musicians, encouraged them, and boosted their confidence enough, that
the event at the Usher Hall was such a marvellous evening. Sadly that
was the last time I saw Jon playing live.
Of course it was in a live concert setting that Jon will be most
remembered. His improvisational skills in the early Deep Purple are
the stuff of legend.
His classical works are great favourites of mine, I cannot imagine the
talent the man had to write some of these orchestral pieces. He has
written music that has made me laugh and made me cry. He is the
keyboard player in the band I grew up worshipping. A wonderfully
talented musician and composer,  I feel privileged to have seen and
heard his music, and I know many others who feel the same.
Kevin Dixon

It’s unthinkable that Jon is gone.  My thoughts are for his wife Vicky and all his children and family at this sad moment in their lives.  I wish them all strength. A great sadness and sense of loss hangs over me. Not only has the music world lost a fantastic musician but a gentleman of the finest order.  He was a giant in my life, a great friend, a fellow traveler, a teacher, not only of music, but of life.  I am devastated at his passing.
Roger Glover

An irreplaceable gentleman and a musical genius, he has left a unique sound, a superb legacy and a proud mark upon British and world music. I am going to miss him.
Chris Bradbury

How do you find the words to describe such humble, talented and funny gentleman. After the Deep Purple Dublin show, Jon came over to our small group  assembled in the bar of a even smaller  hotel, thanked all four of us by name  for our support over the years, put his hands together in Hindu fashion and told us that he was leaving DP after the tour, paid for a round  and departed for bed . You can only imagine how the four of us felt.

Ian Clements

12 Responses to “Jon Lord • Chance On A Feeling”

  1. jim karageorgis Says:

    just part of my life i will never forget

  2. Another Lord fan Says:

    Dying is not easy, but it takes a very special someone to meet a certain death. That’s who Mr Lord was…

  3. stevie nimmo Says:

    Seeing Jon over the years with Whitesnake and Purple has left me with memories that will last a lifetime. My wife and I got engaged at Knebworth in 1985 and I am now introducing my grandchildren to the magic of Purple. The words legend and genius are often overused and used to describe others totally undeserving of such accolades. In the case of Jon Lord these words don’t even begin to describe his talent, humility, professionalism and sheer musicianship. The world is a sadder place without you Jon, I hope you’re up there jamming with Hendrix,Ronnie James, Keith Moon, Janis and of course, Tommy Bolin, that really would be a heavenly sound.
    God Bless your family and friends.
    Stevie (Scotland)

  4. Steve Grover Says:

    A bit late to this post, but Jon’s passing has had a profound impact. Whilst I only met him twice on the Lovehunter tour signing autographs back stage, he was always most gracious with no aires or graces. A case of not being disapointed in meeting your idols.
    His over riding contribution to anywhere he played but particularly DP was the warmth of his playing. He was the soul of the band bringing a thick sensual playing to bring that sustain and magic to so much of DP’s greatest moments.
    My highlights were three fold, first seeing him in Whitesnake (79) and second song in, hitting Might Just Take Your Life, unmistakable – it was DP in snake skins. The RAH gigs, such a joyous and wonderful occasion, feeling part of a big family. And of course his final gig at Ipswich. If you could have bottled that outpouring of love we’d all be rich men beyond our dreams.
    Perhaps most telling I suppose is the sense of ones own mortality…DP and I have been together for so long….37 years and counting! With a profound impact upon my life and all that is good in it, now part of it’s not there. But as they say what memories…Rock On!! And thankyou.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Yes, that Ipswich finale was astonishing. I’ve never seen anything like that at a concert – and doubt I will again. If Jon ever doubted how much he was appreciated they were certainly dispelled by that amazing ovation.

  5. Michael Anthony Says:

    “I still believe, and always will, to the depths and heights of my soul, that music, shorn of labels and standing alone, when it is conceived, composed and performed with love and integrity, can elevate us all.”

    Jon’s own words sum up, far more eloquently than I can, how much his music meant to me. Thank you Jon for all the wonderful, wonderful music.

  6. DAVID HOBBS Says:

    An unfortunate reminder that our heroes are mortal. A huge fan of Purple, I was bought “In Rock” by my parents for doing well at my “O” levels and was hooked.
    Jon was the cornerstone of the band, while the banjo player was the maverick – great to see his comments on Jon’s passing.
    In so many interviews Jon would relate the stories and issues within the band in that calm, reasoned manner he had, a true gentleman.
    Musically untouchable on the Hammond, his solo work was incredibly undervalued. “Pictured Within” especially a favourite of mine, “Wait A While” always makes me emotional.
    A huge loss, when my wife told me the sad news I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.
    I’m sure Jon is up there now, jamming with Ronnie James…

  7. David McCrory Says:

    I was filled with great sadness on Monday evening when I heard the tragic news. I have been fortunate in my life to see Jon play many times with Deep Purple and solo including the 1999 Albert Hall concerto show and have met him on a few occasions where he was gracious and engaging to me. I have been a huge fan of Deep Purple especially Jon since 1971, I will miss the man and the energy he puts into his work. I lost my father 2 years ago and can appreciate the feelings currently being felt and express my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to his family at this time. The world and I have lost a great musician and a wonderful gentleman.

  8. John Parsons Says:

    There aren’t words. The sound he made, the excitement he created, the presence on-stage, and as I discovered after a gig about 10 years ago, the quality of the man. It is a terrible loss, a truly sad day for all those who have been touched by the brilliance of Jon Lord

  9. Wiktor Says:

    A truly sad day. I´ve been following Jon and Deep Purple since the early seventies, I can’t believe he´s gone. There were some hotheads in the band but he always kept he´s cool, standing behind his Hammond, giving Purple that special sound that made them famous. Yes, what a guy, what a man, what a musician. Thank you for everything, Jon.

  10. Doug Tarrant Says:

    I’m of an age that Deep Purple has been part of the soundtrack of my life. I remember buying “Concerto” at age 15 – I didn’t understand it, but it had Jon and Ritchie “doing stuff”, and it was Purple so it had to be good, you know? I’m 50 now. I think I understand it a little bit better because of the shows in 1999. Sarabande and Pictured Within are treasures. I am surprised by my feelings today. I did not expect to go to work feeling so glum. My heart goes out to Jon’s family, his bandmates, and to my fellow fans. Unlike so many professional performers, Jon always came across as a gentleman – even when he was a younger man. His legacy is legend and he is missed.

  11. John Victor Oetomo Says:

    I know that I do not know Lord personally but his music shows us that he was a true gentleman and a genius musician
    I saw DP twice and met Lord twice in the backstage….he was full of smiles and chatted alot to the people…..the warmness and the kindness came from him and his solo albums.
    I listened to his solo tracks tonight with tears. His music is still in our hearts

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