The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: An Interview with Deep Purple’s Jon Lord
Jon Lord, who has died aged 71, was one of rock's most distinctive keyboard players, his aggressive organ playing as central to the power of Deep Purple as Ritchie Blackmore's guitar. In this November 1970 interview from Beat Instrumental, Lord talks of his technique and his equipment——Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages
Deep Purple, since their formation from the debris of the Artwoods, Lord Sutch and others, have become increasingly recognized as one of the most progressive and forceful of all British hard-rock bands. Always experimenting, always pyrotechnical, the group have gone from strength to strength since their highly successful LP Deep Purple In Rock.
I finally caught up with organist Jon Lord at the Kingsway basement studio of De Lane Lea after more than a week of missed appointments and crossed lines. He amiably agreed to break off the pre-recording warm-up session that was in progress and while the Beat Instrumental photographer manipulated his apparatus, Jon and I discussed Deep Purple's present role in the rock world.
Fairly recently, Jon, Deep Purple have become known as something of a controversial group — especially in regard to classical music. Where do you feel Deep Purple's present musical direction is going? Is it going to consolidate this marriage of styles?
No, I feel we're moving away from it now because it was never intended to be part of the direction of the group; it was merely an experiment. As you know, we did experiment with classical themes in the beginning — and with classical chord structures in the music, but it all got a bit soulless...planned, you know? We wanted to get a bit more freedom into the music so we don't normally use any form of classical music now — except maybe in our solos. I love classical music; I love the way it's worked ...all those chord sequences so I often use that sort of effect in my solos. The actual group now is trying to develop into being good at what we're best at — which is what we call Rock 'n' Roll. The Concerto was originally intended to be an experiment. What happened was it caused an awful uproar...which was very nice, of course...and that really started us off.
So you see your direction as trying to consolidate your rock base?
Yes. And trying to move out from there, rather than getting into other things without any sort of basis at all.
The classical venture was an experiment, then. Do you foresee any other experiments which Deep Purple are likely to get themselves into?
Yes. There was a thing last week with the BBC which we did under much less of a cloud of publicity. We had been asked to it by the BBC a year ago.