Learning of the death of Deep Purple founder, Jon Lord, due to pancreatic cancer at age 71, caused me to think that he was the mastermind of the greatest hard rock album ever. That album was entitled “Deep Purple In Rock” and it was of major influence to many bands there after. Metallica, Queen and Alice in Chains all claimed the praise of “Deep Purple in Rock”. When Deep Purple dissolved in 1976, Lord pursued his passion for classical music. He did a brief stint with Whitesnake and then in 1984 he rejoined Purple.
His classical background was extensive and was working on a composition called “Durham Concerto” before his death. Probably, keyboardist Keith Emerson of ELP and Rick Wakeman from Yes were the only other keyboardists that had the musical education of Lord. Yet, he was responsible for co-writing the rock staple, “Smoke on the Water”. There would be no video game, “Rockband” if there wasn’t “Smoke on the Water”! It is the most definitive rock anthem perhaps ever written
I’m going to back track in Deep Purple history. Before the release of “Machine Head”, Deep Purple’s second album on the Warner’s label in America was “Deep Purple in Rock”, which was released in 1970. It’s cover was festooned with hard rock metaphors by using the Deep Purple members faces carved in stone a la’ Mt. Rushmore. Interestingly, Metallica used the same idea of “In Rock” for their fan club’s T-shirt, including a close resemblance to the font used from the original album cover and inverting the Warner Bros. Record logo to “M.C”, for the Metallica club. There is also being released in September a Deep Puple tribute album featuring Metallica and Iron Maiden to name a few.
I bought this album because it just oozed of rock! At this time, according to Guinness Book of Records, Deep Purple was named the loudest band in the world at sounds that reached 17dBs. At one performance in London three people in the audience were rendered unconscious due to the volume.
“In Rock” clearly displayed the vocal power of Ian Gillan with songs like “Hard Lovin Man” and “Into the Fire”. This album was the “Mona Lisa” of hard rock. The threshold of this album was entirely due to Jon Lord and guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore. Never prior or after has there been a hard rock album of such perfection, including albums from AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Metallica and Lamb of God.
The track that truly defined this album was the 10-minute song “Child in Time”. It was clearly structured like a classical opus with it’s quiet beginning and then transitioning into an apocalyptic crescendo with Blackmore’s mind-boggling guitar solo. Never has their been a solo of such ferocity ever recorded. Because of this one track he became considered one of rock’s greatest phantom guitarists. Your teeth would vibrate from the volume of their live performance of “Child in Time”.
The Jon Lord legacy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the high octane song “Highway Star” that he co-wrote. This song is about cars and driving fast. It compares muscle cars to women and that is why Nascar did a major production with Los Angeles based band Buckcherry to cover this Machine Head classic.
The legacy of Jon Lord will always be remembered as a “Child in Time”.