'Just taken longer than anticipated': Cancer treatments force Jon Lord to cancel comeback show

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Jon Lord’s treatment for cancer is taking longer than expected. That’s forced the former Deep Purple keyboardist, who recently announced a new album and a return to the stage, to postpone the scheduled show.

[BREAKING NEWS UPDATE, MONDAY, JULY 16, 2012: Pancreatic cancer claims co-founding Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord at age 71, even as he’d planned big comeback.]

Lord had been set to present a special performance of 2008’s Durham Concerto on July 6, 2012, in Hagen, Germany. But Lord’s management has issued a statement saying that ongoing cancer treatments will keep him from appearing. Edel in Germany and ABC Records in Australia are apparently moving ahead, though, with plans to issue Concerto for Group and Orchestra, a hour-long, three-movement piece recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios with Liverpool’s Philharmonic.

Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, the only member to have played in each of the band’s many incarnations, confirmed Lord’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis earlier this year — but said the disease had been caught in its “really early stages.” Paice, a bandmate in Deep Purple from 1968-76 and from 1984-2002 and also in the offshoot group Paice Ashton and Lord, said at the time that the ailing rock legend was under a doctor’s care in Israel.

Many fans hoped that the appearance in Germany signaled a rebound for Lord. “Unfortunately, due to on-going medical treatments Jon will not be able to perform,” Lord’s management said in a statement. “Jon wishes to assure everyone that this is not a matter for concern, but it is a continuation of his regular treatment that has just taken longer than anticipated.”

Deep Purple fans will remember Lord’s “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” from the classic rock band’s 2000-01 world tour. It’s become something of a touchstone piece for Lord, who began work on the classically inspired piece in 1969 and has performed it on some 100 different occasions since. The latest iteration includes appearances by Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse, as well as Joe Bonamassa, Steve Balsamo, Kasia Laska, and Bruce Dickinson, of Iron Maiden. Ian Gillan, another of Lord’s longtime bandmates in Deep Purple, contributed lyrics.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Deep Purple. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

DEEP PURPLE – TOTAL ABANDON: AUSTRALIA ’99 (2012): An intriguingly presented retrospective set, as the newly added Steve Morse brilliantly reexamines a group of signature Deep Purple tunes. Before the show is over, Total Abandon recalls not so much the Ritchie Blackmore years as it does the band’s fiery Tommy Bolin period. There’s a similar level of front-line guitar craft, and a similar level of energy. Deep Purple sounded like it was having fun again. And, to my ears, the group never really looked back so intently again. By the time they issued Bananas, some five years later, original keyboardist Jon Lord was gone — and Deep Purple had metamorphosed. The addition of Morse, like an ozone-producing jolt of lightning, had transformed what once seemed like a ghost band trying to reclaim its glory days into a freshly rejuvenated force to be reckoned with.

DEEP PURPLE – SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE (1968; 2011 REISSUE): Coming together in 1967, Deep Purple were like a lot of bands of the day, as their mission was to push the sonic envelope as far as possible and create something new and exciting. Based out of Hertford, England, the group achieved their goal straight away. Dramatic and bombastic, Deep Purple played a tumultuous blend of heavy metal and progressive rock before such labels arrived into being, tagging them pioneers of the genres.

FORGOTTEN SERIES: EPISODE SIX – THE ROOTS OF DEEP PURPLE: THE COMPLETE EPISODE SIX (1994): Formed in the summer of 1964, Episode Six quickly developed a star-studded reputation as a hotshot live band. The English group, which included lead singer Ian Gillian and bassist Roger Glover, who eventually gleaned even more accolades in Deep Purple, also cut a flock of brilliant singles that are featured on this set, along with a brace of previously unreleased material.

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