Who's the white-haired gentleman?
A biography by Stathis N. Panagiotopoulos

Jon Douglas Lord was born in Leicester, England, on June 9, 1941, into a musical family. Jon's first active contact with music was through the family piano, where he took classical music lessons from a very early age. As a teenager he strayed from the path after being subjected to the charms of jazz organ players such as Jimmy Smith and rock n roll piano-playing pioneers such as Jerry lee Lewis. At 19, a career in acting beckoned, in the shape of a grant from a leading drama school in London.

That was the early sixties, and "Swinging London" was just around the corner. Jon began playing in jazz and rhythm and blues "combos" mainly in pub gigs. The first such band to be documented was the Bill Ashton Combo, a jazz group led by its eponymous, sax-playing leader. So much for thespian aspirations, then...

In 1963, Jon joined Red Blood and his Bluesicians and acquired his first electric organ. By the next year he occupied the keyboard spot in the seminal Artwoods, led by Art Wood, brother of future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. The Artwoods struggled for the next three years, releasing several singles and EPs and a now highly collectible album titled Art Gallery.

Lack of success led to the Artwoods splitting up, after failing a last attempt at cracking the charts under the alias St.Valentine's Day Massacre. Ronnie Wood then recruited Jon, Twink and Kim Gardner for a short-lived endeavour named Santa Barbara Machine Head who recorded three instrumental tracks that only surfaced on a various artists' compilation, the band having failed to secure a recording contract.

Pop stardom (of sorts) was just around the corner. The Flowerpot Men, a more or less manufactured pop vocal ensemble, had a psychedelic hit and needed a backing band to help them out on the road. They recruited Jon to complete a band consisting of, among others, bassist Nick Simper (future founder member of Deep Purple) and drummer Carlo Little. The Flowerpot Men's backing band was called, appropriately enough in those pre-ironic times, The Garden.

Then came Chris Curtis and Deep Purple. Between 1968 and 1976 Purple was one of the world's most popular and creative bands, with Jon occupying a pivotal role both in the studio and onstage, through every permutation of the band's line up. In between albums and tours, he found time for quite a bit of classically themed solo work, with albums such as The Gemini Suite and First of the Big Bands.

When Purple split in 1976, he delivered his finest solo work to date in the shape of the Sarabande album. Shortly after, Jon formed Paice Ashton Lord with Purple drummer Ian Paice and longtime friend and musical collaborator the late, great Tony Ashton. After one album, Malice in Wonderland, PAL split up and Jon went to Whitesnake. During Whitesnake's down time, Jon guested on albums by Cozy Powell, Graham Bonnet and others, and released another excellent solo album, Before I Forget.

Then came Deep Purple's reformation. Between 1984 and the present, Purple's career has been a roller coaster ride of six studio albums, literally thousands of live concerts all over the world , five different line ups and album sales in excess of 150 million units. Jon retired from the band to concentrate on his solo work in 2002, playing with Deep Purple for the last time in Ipswich, England, on 19th September 2002. That was a highly emotional night, one that signified a new chapter in the careers of both Deep Purple and Jon Lord. "I'm going to have myself a long and vibrant solo career", Jon told me that night, and he's set his sights on fulfilling that promise, as you will very soon find out.


Do not reproduce this piece without permission! If you are interested in using it, please contact us, and we will get you in touch with the author.