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JON LORD
Biography

JON LORD
June 9th 1941 - July 16th 2012

Founder member of Deep Purple, Jon was born in Leicester. He began playing piano aged 6, studying classical music until leaving school at 17 to become a Solicitor’s clerk. Initially leaning towards the theatre, Jon trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, winning a scholarship, and paying for food and lodgings by performing in pubs. In 1963 he broke away from the school, with a group of teachers and other students to form the pioneering London Drama Centre.

A year later he “found himself in an R and B band” called The Artwoods (fronted by Ronnie Wood’s brother - Art Wood) where he remained until the summer of 1967.

During this period he was a much sought after session musician recording with the likes of Elton John, John Mayall, David Bowie, Jeff Beck and The Kinks (You can hear him on 'You really got Me').

In December 1967 he met guitarist Richie Blackmore and by early 1968 they had together formed Deep Purple, the band that pioneered modern hard rock, and which went on to sell over 100 million albums, play live to over 10 million people, and were recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the "loudest group in the world" when at a concert at the London Rainbow Theatre in 1972, their sound reached 117 dB. (Three of their audience members were rendered unconscious).

The group’s debut LP “Shades of Deep Purple” generated the American Top 5 hit “Hush”. In 1969 the singer and bass player left and with the arrival of singer Ian Gillan & bassist Roger Glover their sound became more aggressive and heavy on 1970’s “Deep Purple in Rock” and 1972’s “Machine Head” which include the rock classic, “Smoke on the Water” which Jon co-wrote.

In 1969 in Deep Purple, Jon wrote several large scale works for orchestra and rock group including “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” which was premiered, filmed and recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Malcolm Arnold. This was followed in 1970 by “The Gemini Suite” a commission from the BBC recorded with The LSO again conducted by Arnold, and 1974’s “Sarabande” with The Philharmonia Hungarica, conducted by Eberhard Schoerner (with Andy Summers from the Police on guitar).

In 1976 Jon joined Whitesnake, where he felt his job was largely about adding color (or, in his own words, a 'halo') to round out their blues-rock sound. Between 1980 and 1983 a number of their singles entered the UK charts, taking the now 40-something Jon regularly onto Top of the Pops. He later expressed frustration that this band was not his most creative outlet and this dissatisfaction eventually smoothed the way for the reformation of Deep Purple Mk II in 1984. Jon’s last Whitesnake concert took place on the Swedish TV program Mandagsborsen on 16 April 1984.

During his tenure in Whitesnake, Lord recorded two very different solo albums. 1982’s Before I Forget which feature with a conventional eight-song line-up with the bulk of the songs being either mainstream rock tracks ("Hollywood Rock And Roll", "Chance on a Feeling"), or very English classical piano ballads sung by mother and daughter duo, Vicki Brown and Sam Brown (wife and daughter of entertainer Joe Brown) and Elmer Gantry.

Additionally, Lord was commissioned by Central Television to write the gentle, pastoral soundtrack for the 1984 TV series “Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”, based on the book by Edith Holden, with an orchestra conducted by Alfred Ralston. He also played on albums by his friends George Harrison (Gone Troppo 1982) and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour (About Face 1983), Cozy Powell (Octopus 1983) and on his adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic, Wind in the Willows. He composed and produced the score for White Fire 1984 and in 1985 he made a brief appearance as a member of The Singing Rebel's band (which featured Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) in the Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais film Water.

In the 1980s he was also a member of an all-star band called “ fronted by Pete York and featuring a rotating line-up of Miller Anderson, Tony Ashton, Brian Auger, Zoot Money, Colin Hodgkinson, Chris Farlowe and others. The Olympic Rock & Blues Circus toured primarily in Germany between 1981 and 1989. Lord also took part in Pete York's TV musical extravaganza Superdrumming between 1987 and 1989.

Jon’s solo CD “Pictured Within”, a return to a more piano-based and gentlerstyle, (with most of the lyrics written by Sam Brown) was released to great critical acclaim in 1997. Jon rarely wrote lyrics but he did for the title track and it very much became his signature tune.

In September 1999 Deep Purple revisited Jon’s “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” on it's 30th birthday, performing it with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann at two sold out Royal Albert Hall concerts which were recorded and filmed and released in early 2000 on CD and DVD, going on to sell more than 500,000 copies.

Deep Purple then took Jon’s concerto on a 40-date tour with a 70-piece orchestra to Europe, South America and Japan.

Then this: ”By 2001, I was beginning to lose sleep, going around and around with the thought that I couldn’t see how to make both things run parallel; that is to stay in Deep Purple and yet have the time to concentrate on and write the kind ofmusic that was more and more in my heart. It was the longest hardest decision of my life, to leave the band I had founded, and had loved for nearly 35 years.”

Jon’s last concert with Deep Purple was in October 2002. He then left to tour with his “Gemini Band” who mainly played his solo recordings. He had his piano concerto “Boom of The Tingling Strings” (the title comes from a line from Piano, a poem by DH Lawrence) performed in Australia & Europe and recorded by EMI classics with Nelson Goerner (piano) and Paul Mann conducting The Odense Symphony Orchestra. Also included on this recording is a Suite for string orchestra called “Disguises”. This CD was released in April ’08 (entering the Classic FM hall of fame in 2009).

Jon’s next solo CD “Beyond The Notes” featured two more collaborations with Sam Brown, including a song - "The Sun Will Shine Again" written for his good friend Frida Lyngstad (from Abba) It was released at the end of 2004 and they performed it together, live on ZDF Television in Germany.

Another full-scale work for orchestra and soloists followed, commissioned by Durham University, called “Durham Concerto”. It was recorded in July 2007 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mischa Damev, and soloists Matthew Barley (cello), Ruth Palmer (violin) and Kathryn Tickell (Northumbrian Small Pipes) and Jon himself on Hammond Organ. It was premiered in October ‘07 in Durham Cathedral. The recording was released in January ’08, and made the top 10 in the UK Classical Album Chart the week of release and went on to make number 3 in the UK New Release Classical Chart.It also made the top 50 in Amazon's overall pop chart and no 3 in HMV's online Classical Chart. “Durham Concerto” was the highest new entry in Classic FM's 2009 Hall of Fame (at no.75, while “Boom of the Tingling Strings” made no.198).This is an astonishing achievement for two brand new compositions by a modern living composer.

In March 2010 Jon released a new CD - "To Notice Such Things" - the center piece of which is the suite "To Notice Such Things" for solo flute, piano and string orchestra, inspired by the last line of the Thomas Hardy poem "Afterwards", that Jon’s good friend Sir John Mortimer used to read when doing live appearances (with Jon frequently accompanying him on piano). Sir John Mortimer died in January 2009 and Jon wrote “To Notice Such Things” as a memorial to his departed friend. It was again recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Clark Rundell, with the flute played by Cormac Henry.

Jon continued to perform all over the world with various orchestras and with vocalists, Steve Balsamo and Katarzyna Laska. In 2009, he performed in Arts Festivals as diverse as Lichfield and Shipley in the UK to Plovidiv (Bulgaria) and the Virada Cultural Festival (Brazil).

Jon also revisted his “Olympic Rock & Blues Circus” days at this time, with the Jon Lord Blues Project. In the band were his old friend guitarist and singer Miller Anderson (Savoy Brown, Blood Sweat and Tears, T. Rex, Spencer Davis Group - Miller also sang vocals on Jon’s signature track – Pictured Within), bass player and singer Colin Hodgkinson (Alexis Korner and Chris Farlowe, & Colin also toured with Jon in Whitesnake), singer Maggie Bell (Stone The Crows, Peter Green, Steve Howe and Taj Mahal), keyboards and singer Zoot Money (Alan Price, Bobby Tench and Humble Pie) and singer and drummer Pete York (Spencer Davis Group. Sonny Boy Williamson and Eric Clapton)

And as if that wasn’t enough, he also found time to play with Nigel Kennedy, Ian Anderson and Rick Wakeman, and record with Anna Phoebe (Trans Siberian Orchestra, Roxy Music), Steve Balsamo and Kasia Laska.

In 2011 he was honoured by a Fellowship of Stevenson College in Edinburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Music by his home-town University of Leicester.

In 2011 while Jon was putting together a recording of his iconic “Concerto For Group and Orchestra”, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and stopped touring – his last concerts were the Sunflower Jam on July 12 2011 and a performance of “To Notice Such Things” at the Shipley Arts Festival the following day.

“Over these last years since leaving Deep Purple, I’ve played it over 30 times with different orchestras and conductors all over the world, and, of course, in 2000 I did it well over 30 times with Purple on the Concerto tour, so I’ve been honing the piece live on stage, and I’ve had the opportunity to change things in the score that weren’t sounding quite right. It is therefore a marvelous and exciting prospect to have the definitive recording of the definitive score.” (Jon Lord May 2012).

The rhythm section, Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd, Madonna) & Brett Morgan (Jon Anderson, Sting), and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra were recorded in Liverpool in June 2011, conducted by Paul Mann. Later that year and during 2012 at Abbey Road studios in London, Iron Maiden‘s Bruce Dickinson and Jon’s regular collaborators Steve Balsamo and Kasia Laska contributed their vocals, as did the guitarists Joe Bonamassa, Darin Vasilev and Steve Morse. Despite his ill heath, Jon oversaw all these recordings in person.

In July 6th as part of a year long celebration of Jon's classical work, a new composition by Jon, for choir and orchestra, was performed by The Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Florian Ludwig and broadcast by the German radio station WDR.

Happily Jon got to hear both his cherished finished studio recording of the Concerto and the first ever broadcast of Darkness In to Light before he passed away on July 16th 2012. Jon is survived by his wife Vicky, and daughters Amy and Sara.

On September 28th. 2012, earMUSIC releases "Concerto For Group And Orchestra".

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