TRIBUTES have been paid to rock legend Jon Lord, who died on Monday at the age of 71.
The Deep Purple founder and keyboard player had been battling with pancreatic cancer and died at a clinic in London with his family at his bedside.
He lived in Fawley with his second wife, Vickie, the twin sister of fellow band member Ian Paice’s wife Jackie, and he had two daughters, Amy and Sara.
Lord had been due to play with the Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany last week but was forced to cancel.
A note on his website reads: “Jon passes from Darkness to Light.”
Lady McAlpine, a friend and neighbour, said: “Jon was the most phenomenally talented musician and composer but, above all, the kindest, gentlest, most generous man and the best of friends.
“We have missed him terribly as he struggled with endless treatment that we all hoped would keep him with us.
“There are no words to describe the hole made in our lives that no one else will fill. Now we just have to look after Vickie and the children.”
Lord was a close friend of author, playwright and barrister Sir John Mortimer, who died in 2009, and they performed together at the Kenton Theatre in Henley.Nansi Diamond, an amateur actress and Kenton stalwart, said: “Jon Lord was a lovely man — always gentlemanly, courteous, with immense charm and a self-deprecating manner, somehow not my perception of a rock star.
“He joined John Mortimer on the stage at two of John’s many Kenton Theatre charity events. He insisted on using his own precious electronic white grand piano on which he would entertain us brilliantly. We would go to his house and dismantle it, under Jon’s watchful eye, load it into a van, re-assemble it on stage and then reverse the process afterwards.
“Jon and John Mortimer had a very close mutual friendship. When Jon was talking to me about John’s death he said, ‘I have a very large hole in my heart where John used to be’. I know how he felt.
“We were so very lucky to have had the opportunity to hear the wonderful Jon Lord playing on his own piano in the Kenton.”
Stewart Collins, artistic director of the Henley Festival, where Lord was a patron, said: “Quite apart from having performed his mould-breaking Concerto For Rock Group And Orchestra at the festival in 2006, Jon was a huge friend and supporter of the festival.
“To our absolute joy, he took a very direct interest in the work of the Henley Festival Trust and the Henley Festival Orchestra in particular. In fact, when last we saw him at the 2012 festival’s launch event in April he was still hoping to write a special piece for our youngsters.
“Also one of our honorary patrons, he really saw the importance of music to the life of Henley and he really will be a great loss. A fantastic musician, yes, but also a true gent.”
Lord was a regular at the Crooked Billet pub and restaurant in Stoke Row and performed there with Sir John.
Owner Paul Clerehugh said: “Jon was a beautiful man — charming, kind and considerate. He always had time for people.
“He was incredibly funny, brilliant company and, despite being spectacularly clever, never made you feel anything other than his equal. His soul will be in a very happy place. My love to you, Jon.
A message on Deep Purple’s website reads: “We have lost a dear friend, a brother and a wonderful musician.
“His dignity and graciousness touched us all. His music was an inspiration and took us to places beyond our imagination. A truly great man.
“We humbly express our eternal love and great respect.”
His fellow band members also paid tribute. Ritchie Blackmore said: “Jon was not only a great musician, he was my favourite dinner companion.
“We are all deeply saddened. We knew he was sick but the word was that he was recovering and doing much better. This news came as a complete shock.
“Without Jon there would be no Deep Purple. He lives on in our hearts and memories.”
Roger Glover said: “It’s unthinkable that Jon is gone. My thoughts are for his wife Vickie and all his children and family at this sad moment in their lives. I wish them all strength. A great sadness and sense of loss hangs over me.
“Not only has the music world lost a fantastic musician but a gentleman of the finest order. He was a giant in my life, a great friend, a fellow traveller, a teacher, not only of music but of life.”
Vocalist Ian Gillan said: “He was just an amazing character and, I suppose, the godfather of Deep Purple and we all looked up to him.”