A Question Of Scruples

Jon Lord, 57, is best known as songwriter and keyboard player with the legendary band Deep Purple. He has been with his second wife, Vicky, for more than 20 years and the couple have a 17 year-old daughter, Amy. He also has a 28-year-old daughter, Judith, by his first wife. He talks to Lester Middlehurst.

Your agent suggests you dye your hair black for the cover of your new album cover, to preserve a youthful image, would you?
Not now, but there was a time in the mid-Eighties when my hair was turning grey and I did die it. But one of the great things about being a musician is that you can have the courage to stand naked, metaphorically, and I was hiding the real me. It was only foolish vanity and now I believe that my music is more important than my image.

You discover the charts have been rigged to give you a number one hit. Would you expose the fraud?

Yes. The music business has gradually de-humanised itself so successfully over the past 20 years thats it's become more about business and less about music, so it would be good to strike a blow for freedom by exposing it.

A beautiful groupie offers herself to you after a concert. Would you accept?

How old am I - and how beautiful is she? There was a time in my life when that state of Nirvana did exist, which is probably why my first marriage broke up. Give a young lad from Leicester a pocketful of money, surround him with lots of pretty women and the trappings of a rock'n'roll lifestyle and I think anyone would agree the marriage didn't stand a chance. But if it happened now, I'd turn it down. My wife and I are best friends, so I'd be betraying my best friend as well as my wife.

Your daughter decides to abandon plans to go to university because she is pregnant. Would you try to change her mind?

My immediate reaction would be to explode. I'd be desperately disappointed because you tend to live vicariously through your children and I wouldn't want her to throw everything away, which is how I'd see it at first. But I like to think I would calm down and stand by whatever decision she made.

You have only six months to live. Would you tell everybody or keep it a secret?

I would immediately tell my wife because she is incredibly supportive. She's also a therapist in the field of alternate medicine and has helped a lot of people face that dreadful situation, not least my own parents and hers. I'd catch Concorde to get to her so that I could tell her that chilling news and then I'd take her advice on who else should be told.

Your 17-year-old daughter wants to be a stripper. Would you let her?
I'd do my damnedest to stop her. As an onlooker, I wouldn't run off if a beautiful girl was stripping, but I wouldn't think of her as somebody's daughter. If it was my daughter my reaction would be very different.

An ex-lover invites you to dinner. Would you go - and would you tell your wife about it?

If we had parted good friends then I possibly would - and I'd almost certainly tell my wife because I'd know she'd find out.

If you were late for a meeting, would you park in a disabled bay for 20 minutes?

No. I think that's an incredibly thoughtless thing to do.

You cannot afford to feed your family. You are offered some Ecstasy to sell to make some money. Would you sell it?

I know what it's like to be flat broke. Before I became a well known musician I lived on railway stations in London and, only occasionally, when I'd made a couple of bob playing in pubs, could I afford bed and breakfast. I didn't do anything immoral then to make money, so I'm pretty sure I'd be strong enough to find an alternative, particularly as I've seen good friends die through the misuse of drugs.

Your wife has been killed by an armed robber. You are asked to vote in a referendum to bring back the death penalty. How would you vote?

I'd vote to bring the death penalty back. I was brought up in an era when the death penalty still existed and I'm not totally convinced that the abolition of it has served mankind too well. Sometimes political correctness forgets humanity. And in the situation you've described, I'd definetely want to string the blighter up.

A charity collector asks you for a donation. You have 20p and a 50 note in your pocket. How much would you give?

I'd give 50 if it was a charity I felt strongly about because I can afford to. I can go to a cash machine and draw another 50 out, whereas the people that the charity might be collecting for probably wouldn't know what a cash card is.

A gay magazine asks you to be its centrefold. Would you agree to do it?

I'd suggest the editor sees an optician first and then say no. I don't particularly like myself in the nude and, while I have nothing against people wanting to look at sex mags, it's not something that I'd be interested in.

You are about to host a family quiz show when a prostitute you once slept with threatens to sell her story unless you pay her 5,000. What would you do?

Blackmail is a dreadful thing, but I'd still pay up, and more because of the effect it would have on my family than on my career.

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