Thirty-second installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
Until the late sixties many people thought that Heavy music and Classical music would make strange bedfellows. There weren’t many people that noticed how heavy Classical music actually was. Of course, The Beatles and their wizard producer, George Martin, introduced a lot of Classical music into Rock and Roll on their arrangements, especially after Sgt. Peppers, but there was not a marriage per se.
It took someone with background on both Classical music and Rock and Roll to actually consummate the marriage. And he arrived in the figure of Jon Lord.
John Douglas Lord was born in Leicester on 9 June 1941 and was encouraged by his amateur sax player father to embrace music from an early age. He started with classical piano at the age of 5 and was hugely influenced by J.S. Bach and Medieval popular music throughout his career.
However, as any kid growing up in the fifties, Jon felt the power of American Blues and Rock and Roll, incorporating influences from people like organist Jimmy Smith and heroes like Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. Later on, organ-based heavier bands like Vanilla Fudge and Graham Bond Organization would also exercise a great impact on him.
Jon moved to London with the intention of becoming an actor, playing Jazz clubs to earn a living. Through that he ended up forming The Artwoods. Soon after that band folded, he went on to cover for a keyboardist on The Flower Pot Men where he met bassist Nic Simper and the rest is Rock and Heavy Metal history.
With Simper, drummer Ian Paice, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Rod Evans, Jon formed Deep Purple MKI and went on to change the course of popular music in the world.
The song “Anthem” on Deep Purple’s second album The Book of Taliesyn showed a first attempt of fusing Jon’s two influences: Classical music and Rock and Roll. However, it was only when Jon had a crazy idea that his ultimate goal would be achieved.
Jon wrote and scored a whole concert to be played by a Rock group and an orchestra. Aptly dubbed Concerto for Group and Orchestra, the show was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 and later released as a Deep Purple album (now already with Ian Gillan on vocals and Roger Glover on bass). It shows one of Rock’s earliest attempts to fuse two different musical forms. And you can hear his influence on a lot of musicians that came after like Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads, Kevin Moore, Jordan Rudess and bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X and Evergrey.
But as if that wasn’t enough, Jon Lord was also a trailblazer when it comes to how keyboards were used in Rock. Unlike Prog bands, Lord’s keyboard in Deep Purple didn’t work to create moods. It was mean, loud and raw. Jon Lord made it possible for keyboards to be responsible for the heavy part of the music. That was no mean feat.
If you have any doubt about that, just listen to how the keyboards work on Purple classics like “Speed King”, “Pictures of Home”, “Burn”, “Stormbringer” or “Knocking at Your Back Door”.
Unfortunately, Jon Lord passed away in 2012 and I never had a chance to meet him, but everybody I know that had this privilege, said that besides all the talent he was the most distinguished gentleman.
Thus, for all that, Mr. Jon Lord, let’s rock the house of blue light and come into the Hall of Idols.
Van Halen – Women and Children First
Covenant – Nexus Polaris
Icon – Night Of The Crime
Dissection – The Somberlain
Renaissance – In the Land of the Rising Sun: Live in Japan 2001
Captain America: The First Avenger
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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