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A tribute to Deep Purple's Jon Lord
Many of you who read my pieces know that I am a huge Deep Purple fan, and believer that they should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But today is a day of sadness for DP fans, for their legendary keyboardist and founding member of the band, Jon Lord, died of pancreatic cancer. He was 71 years old, and hadn't been in the band since 2002.
When one thinks of hard rock or heavy metal music, keyboards don't immediately come to mind. Lord, with his trademark Hammond organ, changed all that. He made the keyboards a lead instrument in a band of virtuosos, With Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Roger Glover and then Glenn Hughes on bass, Ian Paice on drums, and either Ian Gillan or David Coverdale on vocals, it was hard to break through and be heard. But Lord did just that. And I'd like to share some of his best work with you, not only through his years with Purple, but with Whitesnake as well.
"Hush". This cover of an old Joe South song is still one of the trademark songs of the band. This version features original vocalist Rod Evans and original bassist Nicky Simper. This was from the short-lived "Playboy After Dark" tv show in 1968.
"Smoke on the Water". Deep Purple's signature song is the band's biggest selling single worldwide, and is one of the first riffs most guitarists of that age tried to learn. The live versions always featured Lord and Blackmore trying to one-up the other near the end of the song. This is a must-listen for Lord fans.
"And the Address". Taken from the "Shades of Deep Purple" album, this is the opening track, an instrumental piece full of Lord's wondrous organ. Very psychedelic. If you listen to the first three DP albums, there's a lot of instrumental or just long-form pieces that showed off the band, and in particular, Lord and Blackmore. Enjoy.
"Lazy". My favorite Deep Purple tune ever. It starts with Lord's haunting organ setting up the melody, and the whole band eventually joins in, piece by piece. We don't even get Ian Gillian's vocal until about three minutes into the song. This is the song that gets what Purple was all about, great improvisation that somehow turns into a song. This is a classic.
"Space Truckin'". This song follows "Lazy" on side two of the classic "Machine Head" album, and it opens with a great Lord riff that is infectious. The band used to stretch this thing to 20-plus minutes on stage on occasion. Here's a shorter version of it.
"My Woman From Tokyo". From the "Who Do You Think We Are" album, this song features Lord breaking into a piano piece at the end of the song to carry it along. One of the best Purple songs ever.
"Might Just Take Your Life". From the Deep Purple Mark III lineup with David Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes on bass, Lord's wheezing organ maintains a bluesy vibe to this great song. His riff at the end of the song is a thing of beauty. It also kicks ass.
"Perfect Strangers". When Purple reformed in 1984, this incredible opening from Lord's keyboards became one of their most recognizable riffs ever. It was also used for years by ECW's Shane Douglas as his theme music. Shane knew what was great about it, too.
"Knocking at Your Back Door". Also from the "Perfect Strangers" album, this has a hot Lord solo in the middle to keep it together. Another brilliant piece from Lord.
"Highway Star". A Purple classic, this is the opening tune to 1972's incredible "Machine Head" album, and Lord's organ mimics the engine of the car depicted in the song. Again, it seems as if Lord and Blackmore are trying to one-up another on this one.
"Slow and Easy". Lord went from Purple to join bandmate David Coverdale in Whitesnake. His last album with that band included this classic, that opens with an other-worldly riff from Lord. Even though the keyboards don't dominate this song, they set the mood. Just a kick-ass song.
I could go on for hours, adding more tracks, but I think aside of "Child of Time", which I can't stand, I got the essence of the greatness of Jon Lord with all the pieces mentioned in this article. My condolences to his family and bandmates on his passing. At least there's a killer keyboard player entering Rock and Roll Heaven.