I had to do a bunch of driving around this morning to take care of a couple of items of business, my lovely wife had to go somewhere as well, and in the competition to determine who gets to drive the ’96 Toyota Celica GT convertible the winner in our house is decided by who has to drive the most miles.

This morning, the winner was me.  It was a perfect morning for it — sunny skies, not too hot.  I switched out CD changers in the car stereo, going from the music my wife had been listening to (the best of War, so she can listen to songs like “Spill The Wine” and “Low Rider”) to some discs I was more in the mood for.

I skipped over a couple of discs from Queen drummer Roger Taylor that I’d already listened to quite a bit, skipped over two anniversary edition discs celebrating Deep Purple‘s “Machine Head,” and settled on some Jeff Beck.

(Photo credit: metalhammer.co.uk)

It’s not that I regret listening to “The Guv’nor” at his Grammy Award-winning best, but had I known that Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord had died today at the age of 71 — suffering a fatal pulmonary embolism in London after a long battle with pancreatic cancer — I surely would have stopped at the classic “Machine Head” discs and relived almost a lifetime of good memories.

Driving along the street or the freeway to Jon Lord playing the Hammond organ as only he could on a tune like “Lazy,” with the top down in our cherry red sports car and the wind rushing through my hair … it’s a pure form of joy to me.  That’s why any Deep Purple disc that I have can usually be found in my car’s CD player.

Reading about Jon Lord’s death was one of those times when it’s like a big part of a music fanatic’s life is ripped away from them, and for me it goes all the way back to when I was around seven years old, “American Bandstand” was on the TV on a Saturday morning, and for the first time I was exposed to a band calling itself “Deep Purple.”

They played “Hush,” and it caught my attention.  I was a huge Beatles fan, but I went for the tune I was hearing on the television in a big way.  It had to be Jon playing that organ that did it.

I still love driving down the road with the top down to that tune.  What was born in me as a child lives on to this day.

But that was just the beginning for my “appreciation” for Deep Purple and the musical ability of Jon Lord.  It’s deep.  Jon Lord was a major part of a defining moment in this music fanatic’s listening history.  He’ll be missed in a big way, for his playing with Deep Purple in its many forms, with Whitesnake, and for some fabulously under-appreciated work he did on his own.

The man was a musician.


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