‘His spiritual strength is what remains': Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan gives a touching tribute to Jon Lord

The death of Jon Lord had a profound impact on Deep Purple during the recording of its newest album Now What?!, even though he’d left the group some 10 years before.

“Jon was a founder member of the band, and the godfather,” Purple singer Ian Gillan says in this clip. “He was also probably the one who gave the band its gravitas. He was very erudite. He had an avuncular manner, which was very pleasing. He had a great sense of humor. We all loved him dearly.”

In fact, Lord had made his initial leave taking from the band’s working lineup a smooth one, easing the transition then as now.

“Jon was magnificent,” Gillan says, “and wonderful in the way that he left the band — and the way he gave us all his blessing to continue. He would often phone up, and talk to us back stand and say: ‘Have a good one tonight,’ and that sort of thing. … Now I think his spiritual strength is what remains, even more so than his physical presence.”

Lord, co-writer of “Smoke on the Water” as well as a slew of other notable Deep Purple cuts, passed at 71 in the summer of 2012 after a bout with cancer. He was with the band from its 1968 founding through an initial break up in 1976, and then from 1984 until his final departure in 2002. He later worked with founding Purple drummer Ian Paice in Paice Ashton and Lord.

The well-received Now What?! includes a tribute to Lord, called “Above and Beyond.” The instrumental intro to “Uncommon Man” also dates back to a free-form collaboration between Lord and Purple’s guitarist Steve Morse, as well.

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