Monday, 16 July 2012

A Legend Passes

I know it's coming and I can't stop it.

Another legend, another hero from my youth, Jon Lord - co-founding member and keyboard wizard of Deep Purple has died.

As I close in on my 50th year - 2 years and change away - an inevitable truth follows. Those who inspired, who gave me so much joy, who unknowingly 'grew up' with me, are falling into eternity. I speak here obviously of musicians, because no matter what we consider a part of our youth, music and those who create it, seem that much more important. Music seems timeless. 'Fad-music' comes and goes. The Donny Osmonds, the Lief Garrets, the Justin Biebers and One Directions will come and go, but there is a music that endures, that has grabbed hold of youth and adult and youth again, since the time of it's creation and refuses to let go. Call it 'classic rock' if you like, but what it really is, is just great music, enduring music.

If the 'Soundtrack of Kevin Rolfe's Life' was available on cd, the two bands who would be on it, from at least age 11 until now, would be Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. My favorite members of those bands - who's sounds have been with me this last 35 years - are both keyboardists and are both now gone. First Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, who died in 2008. A gentleman by all accounts and a wonderful atmospheric player, who always set the mood when it came to a 'Floyd' record. Who never seemed to get the credit he deserved, even if he did compose one of the most beautiful songs in the history of rock music 'The Great Gig In The Sky', from the forever classic album 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. Mr. Wright was such an important member of the band for me, that when he was effectively dumped by Roger Waters, I left too. When the band re-formed years later and Richard was a part of it, so again was I.

And now Jon Lord, my favorite member of Deep Purple has also passed. Where Rick Wright was all about atmosphere, Jon Lord was - at least while playing with Deep Purple and Whitesnake - all about Rock'n' Roll and not only man-handling his Hammond organ like nobody ever before or after, but maybe more importantly, making the keyboard a 'cool' instrument in 'heavy rock' and later for a slew of 'heavy metal' bands. Mr. Lord showed that keyboards belong when the music got heavy and influenced a host of players of the next generation of rock keyboardists. If the tributes pouring in at this very hour are any indication, Jon Lord may very well be one of the most influential musicians in rock music history - and may I add - very quietly so. Not only was he arguably the finest rock keyboardist of all time, but was a fantastic classical player and composer also and is recognized as such by fellow composers alike. This man was a major major talent and maybe more importantly, to those who were fortunate enough to cross paths with him, a lovely man who befriended and made comfortable those around him!

So as a legend and another of my all time favorite musicians passed away today, another part of my childhood died. Perhaps that's why I'm writing this post. Many more will write - with more articulation than I can muster - columns in the days ahead, that will focus on the man and musician. A cursory search of YouTube will unvail - for those who don't already know - how insanely talented, Jon Lord really was. However it won't reveal what he meant to me and many others who he guided through youth, with his music.

Paul Simon said: "Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die". For me, Jon Lord accomplished this. From the first time I ever heard him play a note until this very day, his music has moved me, has grown with me and will stay with me until the day that I die. I may not be an expert in words, but this - I think - is the greatest tribute that I can give him.

R.I.P Jon Lord.

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