Jon Is Lord (1941-2012)

by admin  26th Jul 2012 Comments [27]

Born into a family who enjoyed makin’ a migh-tee racket, Jonathan Douglas Lord (June 9, 1941), sprung from the Leicester well that flowed forth with his saxophone player father and musical siblings. The harnesser of the hellish Hammond—who rocked the same encrusted C3 since ’73—and living godhead of Heavy Metal Thunder birthed a inimitable sound of power and nuance with the Purp, amidst some of the most beastly rock’n’roll ever put to tape, with classical flourishes serving as an underpinning but never being overplayed—separating himself from some of the more high-falutin’ exponents of progressive rock. His ever-present organ first bubbled to the surface in ace R&B/Blues/Soul combo the Artwoods, who cut many fine records and served as backing for touring Americans such as Bo Diddley and Little Walter. So impressed with their skills, Bo hisself planned to have the boys record and tour as his band in the States, but unfortunately no American band availed themselves for the exchange program which was in place at the time. I’ve long thought they were one of the more legit Brit interpretations of American R&B and apparently I’m not alone in that thought, so sez Little Walter: “I thought white boys couldn’t play the blues, but they were playing the hell out of the music. Them boys was as pure in the blues as many a negro back home, in fact there’s many a player in the States couldn’t keep up with them.”

Sadly, earlier this month we lost the Lord in a London Clinic from the combination of pulmonary embolism and his battle with pancreatic cancer. Below Doug Sheppard spins his personal tale of decades-long Purp pleasure and Lord worship. Following that Hush for a minute and partake in some of the inspired madness in the YouTube playlist selected by Doug and myself. (jeremy nobody, esq.)

 

When a favorite musician dies, it’s sad from a standpoint of losing their talents and the potential to ever enjoy those talents again—but it’s not like losing a family member. You listened to their music and maybe even went to their shows, but you didn’t share in any life experiences with them.

Some, however, transcend the anonymity of the average fan-musician relationship when their music ends up shaping your life in a significant way. Jon Lord, who passed away at age 71 on July 16, was such a musician to me. Had it not been for Jon Lord—or should I say Deep Purple—I probably would not even be writing this.

Deep Purple came into my life at age 10 (going on 11) in the summer of 1980, when the only music that meant anything to me was the Beatles. Just about everything I’d heard on FM radio—no need to recount how awful AOR, disco and that year’s Top 40 were—left me cold. (Tellingly, I’d discovered the Beatles via reruns of their cartoons.) Until one June day when “the riff” came on…

Hearing “Smoke on the Water” was like seeing a new Ferrari drive out of a junkyard. Played to perfection by perfectionist Ritchie Blackmore on a Stratocaster, the riff was powerful, catchy and monolithic—a collusion of metallic megawatt ecstasy and an R&B base that no AOR ever had. With Ian Paice’s hi-hat punctuating every verse and memorable chorus, Roger Glover’s bass moving like a stealthy snake, Ian Gillan’s restrained yet melodic vocals and Lord’s brilliant Hammond C3, it was flawlessness all around.

From that moment forward, I was hooked. More importantly, I knew I had to dig deeper than the Top 40 to hear good music. Deep Purple may have sold millions in the early ‘70s, but by 1980, they were out of fashion. These were the days when major labels and their lame-ass radio accomplices were hyping new music as Something You Must Own simply because it was new; old music was out because it was old. So you barely heard “old music” like Deep Purple on the radio and were considered unhip if you liked it.

Or so I was told by a few of my fifth grade classmates in suburban Pittsburgh. But I didn’t care. With Deep Purple seemingly always at the forefront of the “never heard of them” whine I’ve heard many times since, I began reading rock encyclopedias and accumulating records as best I could with my limited pre-teen funds—with my fanaticism ultimately leading to the music writing I’ve done for the past 22 years.

But Deep Purple wasn’t just at the forefront because they happened to be on the right radio at the right time. They were a great band—as great as anyone during their initial 1968-1976 run and even in some of the post-reunion days of 1984 to the present. As veterans of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, the Outlaws, Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages, Joe Meek sessions and the Artwoods, they began as a hard-hitting take on Vanilla Fudge with classical overtones in Mark I, turned in to a pulverizing powerhouse with a tinge of Little Richard in Mark II, got more soulful in Mark III and went into funk with both feet in Mark IV—every lineup recording at least one classic album.

The only constants through all four Marks were Paice and Lord. Lord was the leader of the band in the early days and, while that would change in subsequent lineups, always a key player in their distinct sound. Lord brandished the Hammond C3 not as an instrument to fade into the background, but as much a primary element of the sound as the guitar. His tasteful, restrained side is what made the band’s version of Donovan’s “Lalena” (also featuring a brilliant Rod Evans vocal) and the classic intros to “Child in Time” and “Lazy” memorable. His solos on “Hush,” “Fireball,” “Highway Star,” “Burn,” “ ‘A’ 200” and many others are pure magic—using flamboyance and virtuosity to push the heavy rock envelope while stopping just short of overindulgence. He could even lay back—as in way back—for the mystical intro to “This Time Around,” a highlight of 1975’s underrated Come Taste the Band.

Tellingly, it was Lord’s loud Hammond that signaled the band’s return as the intro to the title track of their 1984 comeback, Perfect Strangers—which for me was a godsend in the musical wasteland of the 1980s. Not only because that one did get airplay (payola’s not all bad I guess)—but because the resulting tour meant I finally got to see Deep Purple. The records were powerful—but nothing compared to seeing them live at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in February 1985 and again at Richfield Coliseum in May 1987. Yeah, they were arena rock shows with all the requisite pomp and indulgences. But I say that guys who actually cut their teeth in the early to mid-’60s UK rock‘n’roll and R&B scenes—as opposed to merely worshipping it after the fact like their critics—have every right to indulgences. Especially when those indulgences include Lord’s house-shaking Hammond solos, delivered almost like a dirty old man smashing a synthesizer (this was the ‘80s, after all) with a cricket bat: over the top but not overindulgent.

Jon Lord, of course, also had a distinguished pre-Purple history including the Artwoods, the Flowerpot Men and Santa Barbara Machine Head, plus post-Purple solo efforts and stints in bands like Paice, Ashton & Lord and Whitesnake. But you can read plenty about that somewhere else—not to mention the influence of Deep Purple on many bands that followed in their wake. His memorial will be tinted metallic purple figuratively and maybe even literally, and it’s that color that’s moved me the most.

 

Doug Sheppard


27 responses to “Jon Is Lord (1941-2012)”

  1. I like the valuable information you supply for your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and test once more right here frequently. I am slightly certain I’ll be told a lot of new stuff proper here! Good luck for the next!

  2. Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  3. Catalina says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100 sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it

  4. I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thx again

  5. thanks for putting it out here. Ubersuggest girl

  6. Arleen says:

    F*ckin’ amazing things here. I’m very satisfied to look your article. Thanks so much and i am having a look forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  7. I simply want to say I am just beginner to blogging and seriously savored your web page. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your site . You actually come with tremendous posts. Many thanks for revealing your blog site.

  8. Napoleon says:

    Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and appearance. I must say you have done a fantastic job with this. Also, the blog loads very quick for me on Chrome. Exceptional Blog!

  9. manicure says:

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as
    I provide credit and sources back to your webpage?

    My blog is in the exact same area of interest
    as yours and my users would definitely benefit from some of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you.
    Thanks!

  10. Daria says:

    I have not checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  11. Thanks , I have just been searching for info about this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

  12. Hi there, just changed into aware of your weblog through Google, and located that it’s truly informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I will be grateful if you happen to proceed this in future. A lot of people will be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  13. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks

  14. Excellent blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any tips? Thank you!

  15. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  16. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I am happy to find a lot of useful information here in the post, we need develop more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  17. Hello.This post was really fascinating, particularly because I was investigating for thoughts on this issue last couple of days.

  18. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

  19. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i got here to “return the want”.I’m attempting to in finding things to enhance my site!I guess its adequate to use a few of your ideas!!

  20. Irvin says:

    I just couldn’t depart your site before suggesting that I actually enjoyed the standard info a person provide for your visitors? Is going to be back often in order to check up on new posts

  21. Sacha Dungey says:

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  22. Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Appreciate it

  23. Jon Gent says:

    Hello are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  24. Trey Saeturn says:

    Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

  25. Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  26. Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Bless you

  27. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Excellent work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.