After a long battle with pancreatic cancer that forced him to give up playing for Deep Purple in 2002, Jon Lord suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today. A message on his website announced the sad news:

It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.

Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with many bands and musicians throughout his career.

Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.

Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

Jon passes from Darkness to Light.

Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012.

Not only was Lord a founding member of Deep Purple, he was part of the DP off-shoot group Whitesnake and continued to play on their albums until 1984 when he left to rejoin Deep Purple. Most notably his playing and writing were showcased on Slide It In's title cut and Love Ain't No Stranger as well as earlier hits like Fool For Your Lovin' and Slow and Easy.

Jon also created the original keyboard open for one of rock's most iconic songs of the 80's: Here I Go Again. Although recorded in 1981 and released in '82 on Saints and Sinners, the song wouldn't reach popularity until the re-recording and inclusion on the multi-platinum Whitesnake album in 1986. On that release Rainbow's former keyboardist Don Airey, who had joined Whitesnake to replace the exiting Lord, recreated the distinct opening riff. Ironically, Airey would go on to replace Lord in Deep Purple in 2002, when he retired.

His strains on the legendary Hammond B3 were a signature part of the Deep Purple sound. I had the opportunity to see Deep Purple in what many consider the 'second coming' of the band in the mid-80's. During Lord's solo, he brought the house down with masterful and furious hands over the ivories. To create that amazing sound, he not only leaned into the monstrous organ, but rocked it back and forth until we thought it would tip over. The Perfect Strangers Tour, stands as my most memorable concert.