Only Lord Knows
I don’t always comment on current events but the recent death of Jon Lord has got me thinking about all things Rock ‘N’ Roll. Well it’s got me thinking about the formative years of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal in any case.
Jon Lord was part of the original Deep Purple line-up and part of a trio of British rock bands who really shaped heavy rock music as we know it today. After hearing of his death, I immediately started playing tracks from ’24-Carat Purple’, a bit of a greatest hits collection when vocalist Ian Gillan was at the peak of his powers. The track ‘Child in Time’ features a monumental keyboard solo from Lord. It is played on the Hammond organ which has such a distinctive sound. Lord truly made the instrument his own.
As I listened to these songs that are four decades old or more, I realized that originally they weren’t written for my ears but the years of my parents’ generation. It’s just that they have stood the test of time and now I get to enjoy them and, in turn, hopefully my kids also. While my parents didn’t follow the heavier side of rock, they were part of the Woodstock generation and from there branched off into listening to a lot of the folk artists who played at the festival. If I was to give an extremely brief history of this side of rock in one paragraph, it would go something like this:
First came Elvis and after a golden period came the Beatles and the Stones. They dominated the sixties but towards the end of the decade came musicians who were taking rock music in a new direction. The likes of Cream [Eric Clapton] and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were pushing the boundaries. While folk and pop dominated the early stages of the Woodstock festival, those who had true endurance were treated to Hendrix as the very last act. It was a sample of things to come. By the early seventies Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple stood at the forefront of heavy rock and influenced bands on both sides of the Atlantic and for decades to come. There, I did it.
Like the news of Ronnie James Dio’s [A former Black Sabbath Vocalist and all-round legend of metal] death last year, it comes as sad news but what we forget is these bands already have their second and third generations of listeners. There are very few people that work for three generations, so to expect these guys to live forever is hoping for miracles. Only Lord knows how he lasted this long and now he’s jamming with Jimi.
A Heavenly Ensemble: Ronnie James Dio – Vocals, Jimi Hendrix – Guitar, John Entwistle – Bass, Jon Lord – Keyboards, John Bonham – Drums.