JOE BROWN joked that Henley is the home of rock stars at a tribute concert to his friend Jon Lord.
He took to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday night as part of an all-star line-up to remember the composer and Deep Purple keyboard player.
Brown said that Henley had been not just the home of former Beatle George Harrison but also a host of other rock musicians.
The veteran rock ’n’ roll star then joked that when he moved to the area “house prices came down”.
He also thanked the Lord family in helping him cope with the death of his wife, Vicki.
Lord, who lived in Mill End and then Fawley, died in July 2012 after suffering pancreatic cancer.
The concert, called Celebrating Jon Lord, was arranged by the Sunflower Jam charity, which was founded by Jacky Paice, wife of Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, and the proceeds will fund research into cancer treatment and other diseases. Lord’s widow Vicky said how much her husband had appreciated the thousands of messages of support in his final year.
The concert was compered by “Whispering” Bob Harris as he introduced about 200 performers, including Deep Purple, the Orion Orchestra, Paul Weller and Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson.
Actor Jeremy Irons, from Watlington, read a Thomas Hardy poem over one of Lord’s piano compositions.
Philip Collings, from Peppard, who knew Lord for about 20 years and attended the concert, said it was a celebration of his life.
He said: “From the haunting lilt of Kathryn Tickell’s Northumbrian pipes in Durham Awakes to Bruce Dickinson and Glenn Hughes raising the roof with Burn, the thousands packing the Royal Albert Hall heard and felt a fraction of the range of Jon Lord’s composing genius.
“The evening reminded everyone there, including many who had travelled from around the world, that nothing in our civilisation has a greater, more pervasive or longer lasting influence than music in all its forms.
“While many adhere to a particular school or genre and even decry others, Jon Lord’s works covered the spectrum.”
About 80 members of the Orion Orchestra, conducted by Paul Mann, performed Lord’s orchestral works, including excerpts from Sarabande.
Mr Collings said: “Later they gave us the amazing experience of hearing hard rock with an orchestral backing — an approach pioneered and perfected by Jon himself.
“The sheer range of the evening was breathtaking as was the line-up of musicians and performers who turned out to honour and celebrate Jon’s life and work.
“There was no doubting from the cheering and foot-stomping welcome given to Deep Purple that the group was the prime attraction.
“No funereal dirge was this — we heard the sheer joy of much-loved music being played by a band who between them had clocked up around 200 years of working with Jon.
“The sound must have been audible at the Albert memorial across the road!”
Mr Collings, who used to be a neighbour of the Paices in Woodlands Road, Shiplake, said he couldn’t “begin to do justice” to the event.
He added: “Having known Jon for some 20 years, I am sure that this very gentle and erudite gentleman would have fully approved of it, which is all that really matters.”