Deep Purple keyboardist and co-founder Jon Lord died today (July 16) in London after suffering a fatal pulmonary embolism and a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, his official website confirms. He was 71.

Lord co-founded hard rock band Deep Purple in 1968 and played with the band up until his 2002 retirement, co-writing big hits like “Smoke on the Water,” “Black Night” and “Strange Kind of Woman.” As the band evolved and changed members, Lord remained a constant force until Deep Purple’s disbanding in 1976.

Following Deep Purple’s temporary disbanding (they reformed in 1984), Lord joined hard rockers Whitesnake in 1978, alongside former Deep Purple bandmate David Coverdale. He also made appearances on George Harrison’s 1982 album Gone Troppo and David Gilmour’s 1983 album About Face, as well as played keyboards on The Kinks’ biggest hit, “You Really Got Me.”

In addition to his life in rock’n’roll, Lord was an accomplished classical composer – an endeavor he pursued even his early years in Deep Purple. This came through in Lord’s impressive Concerto for Croup and Orchestra, released in 1969 and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Just recently, the concerto was re-recorded by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and other guests, and will be released this September.

Most recently, Lord had been part of WhoCares, a supergroup consisting of Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, HIM’s Mikko Lindström, Metallica’s Jason Newsted, and Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain. The group released a charity single last spring.

– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local


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