Jon Lord

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A founding member of heavy metal institution Deep Purple, keyboardist/composer Jon Lord was born June 9, 1941, in Leicester, England. He began playing piano at age nine, later forgoing his classical studies to play rock, jazz, and blues. Around 1960, he relocated to London, following a stint with the Bill Ashton Combo by joining Red Bludd’s Bluesicians. In 1964, Lord played on The Kinks‘ eponymous debut LP (retitled You Really Got Me for American consumption); around the same time, his group the Artwoods released their first single “Sweet Mary,” issuing several more singles prior to the 1966 full-length Art Gallery. After the 1967 Jazz in Jeans appeared to little response, the band re-christened itself St Valentine’s Day Massacre, adopting a gangster-influenced image for their lone single, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Lord next surfaced in the short-lived Santa Barbara Machinehead, and in early 1968 joined Roundabout; after a brief tour of Scandinavia, the group — also including vocalist Rod Evans, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper, and drummer Ian Paice — changed its name to Deep Purple. Originally favoring a classically inspired rock sound dominated by Lord’s keyboard flourishes, the group’s debut LP Shades of Deep Purple generated the Top Five smash “Hush,” while the 1969 follow-up The Book of Taliesyn featured a Top 40 cover of Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman.” However, in mid-1969. Evans and Simper left Deep Purple, and the arrivals of singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover heralded a more aggressive, thunderously heavy approach over the course of albums including 1970′s Deep Purple in Rock and 1971′s Fireball. Although 1972′s Machine Head cracked the U.S. Top Ten on the strength of the AOR staple “Smoke on the Water,” personality conflicts between Gillan and Blackmore precipitated the singer’s departure from the group in mid-1973. Despite the subsequent additions of singer David Coverdale and guitarist Tommy Bolin, Deep Purple never again regained its peak popularity.

In 1974, Lord cut the solo album Gemini Suite, based on a concerto he’d written for the BBC four years earlier; Sarabande followed in 1975, and in the wake of Deep Purple’s demise he joined Coverdale’s new band, Whitesnake. Lord’s next solo album, Before I Forget, appeared in 1982; two years later, he reunited with Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, and Paice to re-form Deep Purple, issuing the album Perfect Strangers. The re-formed group toured to great success, and in 1987 released The House of Blue Light before frictions again forced Gillan from the group. Roster changes consistently plagued the group throughout the years to come, but as before Lord remained a constant of the lineup. The solo Pictured Within followed in the autumn of 1998. – Jason Ankeny

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