Smoke on the Water for Deep Purple’s Jon Lord

If you’re a self respecting metal-head like myself, you probably go back to the roots of metal to hear where it all came from. 

Deep Purple is of course a crucial band in the genre, because they were the first metal / hard rock band to bring in classical music in a heavy format, and classical music has been a big foundation for metal ever since.

So it was with a heavy heart that I read the news that Purple’s keyboard player, Jon Lord had succumbed to cancer at the age of 71. Lord’s keyboard playing was heavy beyond belief, and to hear a Hammond B3 organ cranked out like that in a rock context was really something else. 

Yes, Deep Purple will always be known by anyone with even a passing interest in classic rock for the song “Smoke on the Water,” but they were really so much more than that.


Purple was one of those bands where just about everybody was an incredible musician, including guitarist Richie Blackmore, vocalist Ian Gillen, and drummer Ian Paice. 

But again, Lord’s incredible keyboards brought so much to the band, even Blackmore told, “Without Jon there would be no Deep Purple.” And by all accounts, Lord was a gentleman, as well as a great musician who left his mark.


Ian Gillen also called Lord “the godfather of Deep Purple, and we all looked up to him with tremendous admiration.”

Of course, without Deep Purple, there may never have been a Metallica. One of the many musicians reacting to the passing of Lord is Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich, who was one of many musicians paying tribute to Lord on the web.


As Ulrich told Blabbermouth, “Deep Purple has been the most constant, continuous and inspiring musical presence in my life. They have meant more to me than any other band in existence… There simply was no musician like Jon Lord in the history of hard rock. There was nobody that played like him. There was nobody that sounded like him. There was nobody that wrote like him.”

A personal highlight for Ulrich was seeing Gillan and Lord down in the “snakepit” digging the band in 1992. “I was simply beyond psyched. My heroes in the f*ckin snake pit!!! ‘Look Mom, on top of the world!'”