Deep Purple Tribute: Iron Maiden, Metallica, More Salute Keyboardist Jon Lord

Categories: Metal Mondays

Deep Purple
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There aren't many bands that I hold higher than Deep Purple when it comes to putting down the groundwork for heavy metal, driven by British rocker Jonathon Douglas "Jon" Lord's effectual, driving tones helped turn Deep Purple into one of the most popular hard rock acts of the past 50 years (he did the same thing with Whitesnake). On Monday July 16, at the age of 71, Lord passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. On behalf of rockers everywhere, I'd like to pay some respects.

Named after a color associated with seeking spiritual fulfillment, as well as imagination and royalty, Deep Purple's music truly was a labor of love. They chose the moniker Deep Purple after guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's grandmother kept asking if they would sing the Peter DeRose's song, which was one of her favorites.

Quite fitting for the legends that contrived a smoldering, sharper sound than the blues-based riffs that were key in the British invasion's first wave. From "Smoke on the Water" to "Demon's Eye," Deep Purple's jams influenced bands for decades forward, and key in the band's beloved sound was s keyboardist Lord's style of routing his organ through a Marshall amp to give it a warped twang, bringing the keyboards to an entirely new level of complexity on par with the lead guitar.

Yes, I realize that a lot of people would categorize such great British rock bands of the '60s and '70s like Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple --well, probably minus Sabbath-- as classic rock but not necessarily metal. At the same time, if you don't think that these bands strongly influenced modern heavy metal, that's your major malfunction right there.

Deep Purple has one major difference, though, besides the other three musically masterful acts: great care and time was taken for Jon Lord to indulge in his classical projects. The band raked these compositions over the coals, caressing them with rock guitar licks and pounding drums, fitting them into their metal-laden style--check out the song "April" for a prime example.

Lord was one of those musicians that dabbled in a lot of beautiful things. Chances are, if you heard some phenomenal keyboard work from the late '60s up to the '80s, it had Lord's name written all over it. In 1964, his session credits included playing the keyboards featured in "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks. He guested on albums by such friends as George Harrison and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. He was a breakthrough English composer, pianist, and organ player, fusing hard rock with classical and baroque forms. In the early 2000s, some of his most personal work, Pictured Within, was a prime example of his uniquely crafted, clear musical voice, and embodies Lord's connection with his orchestral spirituality so well that at times it's mind-blowing to think that he influenced the likes of so many heavy metal hitters on the circuit today.

Do yourself a favor if you haven't heard it: grab your poison of choice, dim the lights and get lost in this recording.

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