The legendary keyboardist of Deep Purple, Jon Lord, was born today, on 9th of June 1941.
Born as Jonathan Douglas Lord, he grew up in Leicester and retained a strong bond with the city throughout his life. His father, Reginald Lord, was an amateur saxophonist and from an early age, encouraged Jon to play music too. He studied classical piano from the age of five with a local teacher, and this influence was clear in his career as a keyboardist from the intricate compositions and the organ/piano solos that defined his musical identity.
Influenced by many types of music, ranging from Bach to Medieval music, he was particularly affected by the blues. His Hammond organ sound showed the impact many American blues organists had on him, like Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and “Brother” Jack McDuff. He employed a more “hard rock” style on the Hammond, and stated that he was heavily influenced by the organ-based progressive rock played by Vanilla Fudge after seeing the band’s show in 1967, and earlier by the personal direction he received from British organ pioneer Graham Bond. It was no surprise that Hammond organ came to be known as his signature instrument.
During his grammar school times, he was qualified for “O level pass” in French and mathematics, and participated in amateur dramatics. In fact, when he moved to London around 1960, he was intended to start an acting career. After graduating from Central School of Speech and Drama, he took some small acting parts, but continued to play the piano and the organ in nightclubs and as a session musician to earn extra cash. His music career officially started in 1960, with the jazz ensemble The Bill Ashton Combo. This was 7 years before the foundation of Deep Purple, but that’s a story for another post 🙂