Last time I felt like this was a little over ten and a half years ago. Some friends and I went to see Masters Of Reality at the Garage in Glasgow and, before the band came on, Chris Goss opened the set with a solo acoustic rendition of My Sweet Lord. Because George Harrison had died that day.
It’s unlikely that the world will mark the passing of Jon Lord to the same extent that they did Harrison, but that doesn’t matter. Those that knew his work will be thinking about him today and that’s enough. They’ll be digging out their favourite Purple and Whitesnake tracks and saluting the memory of one the most original innovators in the history of rock music. There is no sound on earth like that growly, distorted, chopped up hammond and leslie combination; and no-one played it like Jon Lord.
I was fortunate enough to watch him practise his art twice: with Whitesnake at the Apollo in 1984, and on his farewell tour with Deep Purple almost 20 years later. He was on both occasions both dignified and incredible. Back around the time of that Whitesnake show I remember Radio Clyde’s Tom Russell interviewing him for his rock show. By this point I was playing keys in my first band and when Tom asked him a standard question: do you have any advice for any young keyboard players out there, I was all ears. And the reply was the perfect reply: practice. Practice your scales and arpeggios. Both hands. In every key. Practice like that, and you can play anything. Such a straightforward, sensible piece of advice, even aged 15 I knew what it meant: there are no shortcuts, only hard work.
I don’t do pedestals, but there are men who inspired me exactly the right way at exactly the right time of my life. Two are Davie Cooper and Jonathan Carroll. Jon Lord was the third.
I love this clip because it demonstrates how understated, and yet how effective a player he was. Because the band appear to be playing to a crowd of rather terrified eight year olds. And because it’s a fuck off genius riff. I imagine if we’d been gigging tonight We’d have had a run through this by way of honouring a true original.