Interview with Jon Lord

Appeared in Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin on March 22, 1996 (which is a weekly add-on to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, one of the biggest "serious" newspapers in Germany)

Deep Purple - a prison that makes me free

SZ: Mr. Lord, for almost 30 years you are playing with Deep Purple. Every night on stage, playing Smoke on the Water or Black Night - isn't it getting a bit boring ?
JL: No need to pity me, in the contrary. I am by far a better musician than I was with 20. I have become more ???. I have 30 years more experience, more technical abilities and I heard more great music. I became wiser, and I am in good health. I have everything - except my youth.
SZ: Isn't youth especially needed for Rock music ?
JL: I am asking myself why a whole category of music is regarded as property of youth. It is no problem for classical musicians to become older, and blues musicians are born old.

SZ: Deep Purple broke apart in bad quarrels several times. How comes the group always gets together again after so many years.
JL: Usually it's the manager who says: Ok boys, it's time to do some work again. Seriously, I have to make music to earn my living. I am not a millionaire.
SZ: Hard to believe. Deep Purple has sold more than 80 millon albums and is one of the most successful bands of all times.
JL: Who is a real millionaire these days ? Nobody who has just one million pounds. And to have several millions, I would have to win a lottery.

SZ: Your lifestyle changed drastically. Why don't you get out of Rock business. Hasn't Deep Purple become a prison for you ?
JL: But it's a thousand times better than being without work. Yes, Deep Purple is a prison for a musician who wants to do lots of experiments. But success in Rock Music made it possible for me to follow other musical ???. DP is a prison that makes me free.

SZ: There is a video for your new album "purpendicular". It includes band members brought into the picture by computer technology. Very modern.
JL: Sounds very interesting. I never saw it. Someone produced it, without us being involved. Greg Rike, that guy in Orlando owning the studio where we recorded our last album, sent it to the record company in New York. They were crazy about it. Roger Glover saw it. He liked it, that was sufficient for me.
SZ: Could "Purpendicular" be freely translated as "Deep Purple light" ?
JL: Not at all. The music is as agressive and discordant as everything we ever made. Almost like grunge. Even if I am older than anybody who would buy it, I'm really in love with that album. It is a turning point in our band.
SZ: Which turning point is it this time?
JL: Now we should talk about our former guitarist Ritchie Blackmore - to get it over with.
SZ: So, it is not by chance that your new guitarist, Steve Morse, plays the first notes for your new album. It sounds a bit like: hey, Ritchie , you can ***
JL: Exactly. When we made up the order of the songs, everyone in the band voted for Ted... as the first song. It signals: Hello, here is Steve Morse, the new guitarist. When Steve began to play guitar, he heard a lot of DP, and he still found his own style - so he is our man. But a legendary solo of Ritchie Blackmore still must be played in that same legendary way.
SZ: Also "Smoke on the Water" ?
JL: Yes, this is Steve's greeting to Ritchie. He is very grateful to him for leaving the band. But when in some years he says he's got enough, this will be the end of DP - definitely.
SZ. Not like when RB quit ?
JL: For many years we believed DP could not survive without RB. He himself convinced us otherwise. He left us alone during the world tour in 1993 when we still had 8 concerts in Japan to play - all sold out. He made Ian Gillan responsible for it. He said Ian could not sing. But Ian did sing like an angel, he was fantastic.
SZ: What kind of person is RB ?
JL: He's a tragical figure for me. Mostly because he is enormously talented. He invented a new style of guitar playing. He was a man of extrordinary individualism. I said "was" . Because in the last time, his playing was missing fire, it sounded tired, lustless. And this man was unpredictable. We had to take care all the time. Sometimes he didn't want to play an encore, another time he just walked off the stage during the show. And we had to care for all that ??? on stage. It was hell to bring a good feeling to the audience. ... Ritchie wanted to tranform us into some kind of "Rainbow". He refused to accept our ideas, only wanted to play his own stuff. Recently he said "Jon Lord had not a single idea in the last 25 years"
SZ: Is that true ?
JL: I had lots of ideas, but he refused to play them. He just did not play them. He wanted to hurt me with that remark - the devil knows why.
SZ: He did not have a problem to fire Ian Gillan. Why didn't the band just throw him out ?
JL: Maybe because we thought we depended on him, maybe out of misunderstood friendship, because for some time we were very close. So we were trying to repair the gaps. We all had the feeling we needed Ritchie. Now we are finally free.
SZ: How good is DP today ?
JL: The new album is a direct link to the seventies, to our great times. And Steve fits in perfectly.

SZ: What do your daughters think about you today ?
JL: My older daughter doesn't life in may house anymore. The younger one, she is 14, even likes DP: She is, besides radio, the only contact I have to modern rock music.
SZ: What do you learn from her ?
JL: Red Hot Chili Peppers are big fun, also the english band Reef. Curt Cobain touched me deeply. When I am at home, I am listening to classical music almost exclusively. Sometimes I listen to Miles Davis. Or some Led Zeppelin.

Published with kind permission from the friendly Highway Star.