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Rocker Jon Lord, who founded Deep Purple and co-wrote their most famous song, Smoke On The Water, has died aged 71. The Leicester born keyboard player, who had pancreatic cancer, died in London today.
A statement on his website said he had passed "from Darkness to Light". The statement also said Lord was "surrounded by his loving family" when he died.
Last year, Lord told fans he was "fighting cancer and will therefore be taking a break from performing while getting the treatment and cure".
Jon started playing the piano in his family home and took classical music lessons before turning to jazz and rock 'n' roll. He moved to London at 19 to go to drama school, but was soon playing piano in pubs and bars and in 1964 joined cult blues band the Artwoods.
He then went on tour with the psychedelic pop combo The Flowerpot Men, who had scored a hit with Let's Go To San Francisco, before joining Deep Purple in 1968. It was this band that sold more than 100 million albums - many featuring Lord's classically inspired keyboards.
Their most famous song was the simple Smoke On The Water with its trademark guitar riff (which Jon himself wrote).
The band split in 1976 and Lord joined bandmate Ian Paice in Paice Ashton Lord before playing with Whitesnake and a reformed Deep Purple.
His friend Rick Wakeman paid tribute to him saying. "I was first made aware of Jon with Shades Of Deep Purple in the mid 1960s and I was a great fan. We became great friends and wrote stuff for (a regular fundraising event) Sunflower Jam. We were going to write and record an album before he become ill. His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly"
Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012
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