Monday, November 19, 2007
Jon Douglas Lord (born Leicester 9 June 1941) is an English composer, Hammond organ and piano player.
He is recognised for his Hammond organ blues-rock sound and for his pioneering work in fusing rock and classical or baroque forms. He has most famously been a member of Deep Purple, as well as of Whitesnake, Paice, Ashton & Lord, The Artwoods and Flower Pot Men.
In 1968, Lord co-founded Deep Purple. He and drummer Ian Paice were the only constant band members during the band's existence from 1968 to 1976 and from when they reformed in 1984 until Lord's retirement in 2002.
One of his most ambitious works was his composition Concerto for Group and Orchestra, which was performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969 with Deep Purple (Lord and Paice with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, singer Ian Gillan and bass guitarist Roger Glover) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The concerto was revived for its 30th anniversary in 1999 with another performance at the Albert Hall, again performed by Deep Purple (Lord, Paice, Gillan, Glover and Steve Morse in place of Ritchie Blackmore) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 2002 he retired from Deep Purple for good, to concentrate on composing and on lower-key blues/rock performances.
He is married to Vickie, the twin sister of Ian Paice's wife, Jackie. They both live in the United Kingdom.
Before Deep Purple 1941-1968
It is in this period that Lord's classic keyboard sound emerged. He began experimenting with a keyboard sound centred on the Hammond organ (in spite of the emergence of the Moog synthesizer in rock through the experimentation of keyboard players like Keith Emerson), but heavier than a blues sound and delivered a rhymthic foundation to complement Blackmore's speed and virtuosity as a highly technically gifted lead guitarist. Lord also loved the sound of an RMI 368 Electra-Piano and Harpsichord, which was used to great effect of songs like "Demon's Eye", and "Space Truckin'". Somewhere around 1973, Lord and a technician combined his Hammond C3 Organ with the RMI.
With a technician, he began to experiment by pushing the Hammond-Leslie sound through Marshall amplification and what resulted was the backbone of the Deep Purple sound: a growling, heavy, mechanical sound that gave Purple a unique rhythmic counterpoint to Blackmore's lead playing, but that allowed Lord to compete with Blackmore with an organ that sounded as heavy as a lead guitar. From early recordings like Hush (1968) to the eventual seminal Deep Purple in Rock album (1970) it is clear that Lord's sound was as critical to the Deep Purple sound as Blackmore's. In fact, Lord's willingness to play many of the key rhythm parts to underpin Blackmore gave the guitarist the freedom to let loose both live and on record.
On Deep Purple's second and third albums, Lord began indulging his ambition to fuse rock with classical music. This enhanced his reputation among fellow musicians, but caused tension within the group. Blackmore was keen to explore riff-based heavy rock, inspired by the success of Led Zeppelin, while Simper later said: "The reason the music lacked direction was Jon Lord ****ed everything up with his classical ideas."
Blackmore agreed to go along with Lord's experimentation, provided he was given his head on the next band album. The resulting Concerto For Group and Orchestra (in 1969) was one of rock's earliest attempts to fuse two distinct musical idioms. Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 (with new band members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, Evans and Simper having been fired), recorded by the BBC and later released as an album, the Concerto gave Deep Purple their first highly-publicised taste of mainstream fame and gave Lord the confidence to believe that his experiment and his compositional skill had a future. The Concerto also gave Lord the chance to work with established classical figures, like Malcolm Arnold (knighted in 1993), who conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the performance and who also brought his technical skills to bear by helping Lord score the work and to protect him from the inevitable disdain of the older members of the orchestra.
Classical dalliance over, Purple began work on Deep Purple in Rock, released by EMI in 1970 and now one of heavy rock's key early works. Lord's style is a critical counterpart to Blackmore's playing on the record and it was clear that the tension between the two, competing to out-dazzle each other, often in classical-style, mid-section 'call and answer' improvisation (on tracks like Speed King), something they employed to great effect live, was the start of a trademark sound and the basis of powerful live performances. Similarly, Child in Time features Lord's playing to maximum tonal effect. Lord's experimental solo on "Hard Lovin' Man" (complete with police-siren interpolation) on the album is his personal favourite among his Deep Purple studio performances.
Template set, Deep Purple released a sequence of albums between 1971's Fireball and 1975's Come Taste the Band, by which time Gillan, Glover and finally Blackmore had left. The band disintegrated in 1976. The highlights of Lord's Purple work in the period include his rhythmic underpinning of Smoke on the Water, Highway Star and Space Truckin' from Machine Head (1972), his playing on the Burn album from 1974 and the sonic bombast of the Made in Japan live album from 1972.
Roger Glover later described Lord as a true 'Zen-archer soloist', someone whose best keyboard improvisation often came at the first attempt. Lord's strict reliance on the Hammond C3 organ sound, as opposed to the synthesizer experimentation of his contemporaries, places him firmly in the jazz-blues category as a band musician and far from the progressive-rock sound of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Lord himself would rarely venture into the synthesizer territory on Purple albums, often limiting his experimentation to the use of the ring modulator with the Hammond, to give live performances on tracks like Space Truckin' a distinctive 'spacey' sound. Rare instances of his Deep Purple synthesizer use (later including the MiniMoog and other Moog synthesizers) include ``A´´ 200, the final track from Burn.
Lord's 1970s career bears comparison with Emerson and Wakeman, the decade's other significant pioneers of rock keyboards. He was much less of a showman, partly because he couldn't compete with Blackmore's stage persona but mostly because he did not wish to. He was able to meld the Hammond soul to a heavy rock sound, demonstrating note control and speed to match Blackmore's technical fireworks on stage. In fact, Lord's working experience of scoring for and performing with leading orchestras far exceeded that of his rock contemporaries by the late 1970s.
Deep Purple 1968-1976
Lord continued to focus on his classical aspirations alongside his Deep Purple career. The BBC, buoyed by the success of the Concerto, commissioned him to do another work and the resulting Gemini Suite was performed by Deep Purple and the Light Music Society under Malcolm Arnold at the Royal Festival Hall in September 1970 and then in Munich with the Kammarorchestra conducted by Eberhard Schoener in January 1972. It then became the basis for Lord's first solo album, Gemini Suite, released in November 1972, with vocals by Yvonne Elliman and Tony Ashton and with the London Symphony Orchestra backing a band that included Albert Lee on guitar.
Lord's collaboration with the highly experimental and supportive Schoener resulted in a second live performance of the Suite in late 1973 and a new Lord album with Eberhard Schoener, entitled Windows, in 1974. It proved to be Lord's most experimental work and was released to mixed reactions. However, the dalliances with Bach on Windows and the pleasure of collaborating with Schoener resulted in perhaps Lord's most confident solo work and perhaps his strongest orchestral album, Sarabande, recorded in Germany in September 1975 with the Philharmonia Hungarica conducted by Schoener.
Composed of eight pieces (from the opening sweep of Fantasia to the Finale), at least five pieces form the typical construction of a baroque dance suite. The key pieces (Sarabande, Gigue, Bouree, Pavane and Caprice) feature rich orchestration complemented sometimes by the interpolation of rock themes, played by a session band comprising Pete York, Mark Nauseef and Andy Summers, with organ and synthesizers played by Lord.
In March 1974, Lord and Paice had collaborated with friend Tony Ashton on First of the Big Bands, credited to 'Ashton & Lord' and featuring a rich array of session talent, including Carmine Appice, Ian Paice, Peter Frampton and Pink Floyd saxophonist/sessioner, Dick Parry. They performed much of the set live at the London Palladium in September 1974.
This formed the basis of Lord's first post-Deep Purple project Paice, Ashton & Lord, which lasted only a year and spawned a single album, Malice in Wonderland in 1977. He created an informal group of friends and collaborators including Ashton, Paice, Bernie Marsden, Boz Burrell and later, Bad Company's Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and others. Over the same period, Lord guested on albums by Maggie Bell, Nazareth and even Richard Digance. Eager to pay off a huge tax bill upon his return the UK in the late-1970s (Purple's excesses included their own tour jet and a home Lord rented in Hollywood from actress Ann-Margret), Lord joined former Deep Purple band member David Coverdale's new band, Whitesnake in August 1978 (Paice joined them in 1980 and stayed till 1982).
Lord as Composer
Lord's job in Whitesnake was largely limited to adding colour (or, in his own words, a 'halo') to round out a blues-rock sound that already accommodated two lead guitarists, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody. He added a Yamaha Electric Grand piano to his set-up and finally a huge bank of synthesizers onstage courtesy of Moog (MiniMoog, Opus, PolyMoog) so he could play the 12-bar blues the band often required and recreate string section and other effects. Such varied work is evident on tracks like Here I Go Again, Wine, Women and Song, She's a Woman and Till the Day I Die. A number of singles entered the UK charts, taking the now 40-something Lord onto Top of the Pops with regularity between 1980 and 1983. He later expressed frustration that he was a poorly paid hired hand . His dissatisfaction (and Coverdale's keenness to revamp the band's line-up and lower the average age to help crack the US market) smoothed the way for the reformation of Deep Purple Mk II in 1984.
During his tenure in Whitesnake, Lord did have a chance to do two distinctly different solo albums. 1982s Before I Forget featured a largely conventional eight-song line-up, no orchestra and with the bulk of the songs being either mainstream rock tracks (Hollywood Rock And Roll, Chance on a Feeling), or - specifically on Side Two - a series of very English classical piano ballads sung by mother and daughter duo, Vicki Brown and Sam Brown (wife and daughter of entertainer Joe Brown) and vocalist Elmer Gantry. The album also boasted the cream of British rock talent, including prolific session drummer (and National Youth Jazz Orchestra alumnus) Simon Phillips, Cozy Powell, Neil Murray, Simon Kirke, Boz Burrell and Mick Ralphs. Lord used synthesizers more than ever before, principally to retain an intimacy with the material and to create a jam atmosphere with old friends like Tony Ashton.
Additionally, Lord was commissioned by producer Patrick Gamble for Central Television to write the soundtrack for their 1984 TV series, Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, based on the book by Edith Holden, with an orchestra conducted by Alfred Ralston and with a distinctly gentle, pastoral series of themes composed by Lord. Lord, now firmly established as a member of UK rock/Oxfordshire mansion aristocracy (in Lord's case, a home called Burntwood, complete with hand-painted Challen baby grand piano, previous owner, Shirley Bassey), was asked to guest on albums by friends George Harrison (Gone Troppo from 1982) and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour (1983's About Face), Cozy Powell (Octopus in 1983) and to play on an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic, Wind in the Willows.
Lord's re-emergence with Deep Purple in 1984 resulted in huge audiences for the reformed Mk II line-up, including 1985s second largest grossing tour in the US and an appearance in front of 70,000 rain-soaked fans headlining Knebworth on June 22nd 1985, all to support the Perfect Strangers album. Playing with a rejuvenated Purple line-up (including spells at a health farm to get the band including Lord into shape) and being onstage and in the studio with Blackmore, gave Lord the chance to push himself once again and his 'rubato' classical opening sequence to the album's opener, Knocking at Your Back Door (complete with F-Minor to G polychordal harmony sequence), gave Lord the chance to do his most powerful work for years, including on the Zeppelinesque title track, Perfect Strangers. Further albums followed, often of varying quality and by the late-1990s, Lord was clearly keen to explore where to take his career next.
In 1997, he created perhaps his most personal work to date, Pictured Within, released in 1998 and with a European tour to support it. Lord's mother Miriam had died in August 1995 and the album is a deeply affecting piece, inflected at all stages by Lord's sense of grief. Recorded largely in Lord's home from home, the city of Cologne, the album's themes are Elgarian and alpine in equal measure. Lord signed to Virgin Classics to release it and perhaps saw it as the first stage in his eventual departure from Purple to embark on a low-key and altogether more gentle solo career. One song from Pictured Within, entitled "Wait A While" was later covered by Norweigan singer Sissel Kyrkjebø on her 2003/2004 album My Heart. Lord finally retired from Deep Purple in 2002, preceded by an injury that required an operation. He said subsequently, 'Leaving Deep Purple was just as traumatic as I had always suspected it would be and more so - if you see what I mean'. He even dedicated a song to it on 2004s solo effort, Beyond the Notes, called De Profundis, the album was recorded in Bonn with producer, Mario Argandona between June and July 2004.
Pictured Within and Beyond the Notes provide the most personal work by Lord and together, have what his earlier solo work perhaps lacks, a very clear musical voice that is quintessentially his. Together, both albums are uniquely crafted, mature pieces from a man in touch with himself and his spirituality. Lord has slowly built a small, but distinct position and fan base for himself in Europe, collaborating with former ABBA superstar and family friend, Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad), on the 2004 track, "The Sun Will Shine Again" (with lyrics by Sam Brown) and performing with her across Europe and subsequently, doing concerts also to première the 2007-scheduled Boom of the Tingling Strings orchestral piece.
In 2003, he also returned to his beloved Rn'B/blues heritage to record an album of standards in Sydney, with Australia's Jimmy Barnes, entitled Live in the Basement, by Jon Lord and the Hootchie Cootchie Men, 2003. He remains one of British rock music's most eclectic and talented instrumentalists. Lord is also happy to support the Sam Buxton Sunflower Jam Healing Trust and in September 2006, performed at a star-studded event to support the charity led by Ian Paice's wife, Jacky (twin sister of Lord's wife Vicky). Featured artists on stage with Lord included Paul Weller, Robert Plant, Phil Manzanera, Ian Paice and Bernie Marsden.
Two Lord compositions, "Boom of the Tingling Strings" and "Disguises (Suite for String Orchestra)", are recorded and scheduled for Summer 2007 release on EMI Classics. Both feature the Odense Symfoniorkester, conducted by Paul Mann. Additionally, a second Hoochie Coochie Men album is in the can as of July 2006 recording in London. This album, Danger - White Men Dancing, was released in October 2007.
His Durham Concerto, commissioned by Durham University for its 175th anniversary celebrations, received its world premiere on 20 October 2007 in Durham Cathedral by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and featured soloists Lord on Hammond Organ, Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian pipes, Matthew Barley on cello and Ruth Palmer on violin.
Lord was the next-door neighbour of former Beatle George Harrison, and played piano on the posthumously released Brainwashed (2002) album.
From Purple to Now 1984-
With Deep Purple
Gemini Suite (1972)
Before I Forget (1982)
Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (1984)
Pictured Within (1998)
Live in the Basement, Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men (2003)
Beyond The Notes (2004)
Danger - White Men Dancing, Jon Lord and the Hoochie Coochie Men (2007) Solo
Ready an' Willing (1980)
Live...In the Heart of the City (1981)
Come an' Get It (1981)
Saints & Sinners (1982)
Slide It In (1984) With Whitesnake
Art Gallery (1966, with The Artwoods)
Gemini Suite Live (1970, with Deep Purple)
The Last Rebel (1971, film score with Tony Ashton)
Windows (1974, with Eberhard Schoener)
First of the Big Bands (1974, with Tony Ashton)
Malice in Wonderland (1977, with PAL)
The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady (1984, with Alfred Ralston)
From Darkness To Light (2000, not released)
Calling The Wild (2000, film score, not released)
Boom Of The Tingling Strings (2003, not released)
Disguises (2004, not released) Further reading
'Beyond the Notes': Lord, Jon sleeve-notes by subject (Capitol Music, 2004)
'Pictured Within': Lord, Jon sleeve-notes by subject (Virgin Classics, 1997)
'Before I Forget': Jon Lord interviews by Mike Beecher and Phil Easton (1982)
'Sarabande': Notes by Vince Budd, South Uist, research by Simon Robinson, July 1998
'Burn': 30th Anniversary Edition, notes by Nigel Young, May 2004
'Made in Japan': sleeve notes to official remastered recording by Simon Robinson (1998)
'Purple Reign': Interview with Jon Lord by Lee Marlow, 26 July 2000
'Kindred Sprit' magazine: Interview with Jon Lord, Summer 2000
'Daily Mail': Weekend Magazine, Interview with Jon Lord 'On the Mauve', 1997
'Keyboard Review': Interview with Jon Lord by Cliff Douse, Issue 139, July 1997
'Classic Albums: Machine Head' (DVD): Interviews with Jon Lord, Gillan, Glover, Paice, Blackmore, Eagle Rock Entertainment Limited, 2002
'The Kids Are Alright': Interview with Bill Ashton, MBE, by Vinyl Vulture.
'Jon Lord - With Pictures', 90-minute Australian DVD documentary on Jon Lord with extensive interviews, 2003
Posted by iamyrfans at 9:45 AM