e was God.
And if any would debate that fact, none can deny that his very name was Lord.
Something is askew in the world that can never be righted. Upon Jon Lord’s death, his press agent stated, “Jon passes from Darkness to Light” – but alas, he has left US in darkness…
He has toured the planet in “the loudest band in the world,” he has created concertos, he has sold over 100 million records… I needn’t speak of what Jon Lord meant to the world – his legacy is solid; I can only speak of what Jon Douglas Lord meant to one small cog to whom he meant the world.
What did you do on July 16, 2012? I spent the day watching live performances of Highway Star and weeping. This is the passing not just of a Titan, but a core part of my being. We all exist in our own movies, rarely realizing that somewhere in the First Act, we inadvertently, subconsciously hooked our lantern to a lodestar; at a level deeper than DNA, that lodestar affected our every decision, altered our Life pathways; all the successes we’ve experienced were theirs, all the missteps ours. It was Jon Lord’s movie and I was just barely following in his fingering.
John Paul Jones made the organ spooky; Jon Lord made the organ spooky with teeth. Keith Emerson made the organ solo proud; Jon Lord made the organ solo priapic. Rick Wakeman made keyboards progressive; Jon Lord made keyboards explode.
As the founder and co-writer in his most famous incarnation, Deep Purple, Lord masculinized the keyboard, drove it to the front of the stage on steel wheels. He gave keyboard players the gift of frontmanship, arrogance, hippie flair. For this, I wanted to thank him, I wanted to carry the torch for him, I wanted to play like him, I wanted his cool cruel stage presence, I wanted his name, I wanted his shades, I wanted his mustache and hippie flair. Like him, I wanted to beat the keyboard ’til it bled notes of iron. I wanted to BE him.
And then – for a brief, beatific moment in time – I was. PURPLE arrived, a Sydney tribute band. Could one even call my immaculate assumption into the band an “audition”? As I psychotically note-for-noted Jon Lord’s solos that I had been stoking since childbirth… Hundreds of gigs later, one of my greatest regrets in Life is that this band existed long before the Tube-of-You, long before video presskits, long before bands systematically shot more than two or three gigs on VHS tapes that are now deteriorating in some forgotten box in a dank corner of some Sydney basement guarded by cellar rats.
The mighty Jon Lord taught me how to approach the Hammond B3 with a guitarist’s verve, in contrapuntal Bach and pentatonic AC/DC; with growling overdrive and smoking valves, he gave keyboardists a hammer to wield against the outsized egos of guitarists and singers; he changed how the world perceived the organist – from that of beaten down background dweller who came from church wearing his vest for Christ, to freight train instigator of bucking and diving Leslie swirl.
I carried his torch. Lord, I carried his torch! They called me egomaniac, they called me gloryhunter, they called me mad, bad and dangerous to know, until eventually they called me… “the black Jon Lord.” Being dubbed by the Sydney music scene as my lodestar’s surrogate would be my greatest honor. (To wit: All the successes were his…)
Someone said that Jon Lord taught God how to play the Hammond. That’s true, but more importantly, he taught chicks that the keyboardist’s organ was as groovy as any guitarist’s axe.
For this, and for the life given over to being the virtuoso musician and consummate showman, and for inspiring others to follow in your footsteps (well, for most, myself included, it was not “following in your footsteps,” rather, attempting to leap from one Promethean footprint to the next), for staking the claim and planting the flag for all keyboardists in heavy rock, for decimating the conventional wisdom that the guitarist writes the riffs that rock, for jarring perceptions on which musicians should comprise the frontline of a band, for being a scintillating light in a world filled with dark —
I thank The Lord.