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OTRC: Jon Lord of Deep Purple dies at age 71 after cancer battle

Jon Lord, formerly of Deep Purple, performs at a solo concert in Hannover, Germany on Feb. 9, 2005. (flickr.com/photos/gerriet/)

Jon Lord, a founding member of legendary hard rock band Deep Purple, has died at age 71 after battling pancreatic cancer.

The sad news was announced on the musician's website.

"It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday, 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family," the message said, adding: "Jon passes from Darkness to Light."

Lord is survived by his wife, Vicky, whose twin sister is married to Paice. She and Lord are parents to a daughter Amy. He is also survived by another daughter, Sara, whose mother is his first wife, Judith.

Lord co-founded Deep Purple in 1968 with singer Rod Evans, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper and drummer Ian Paice, who remains the only original band member to still work with the group today.

Deep Purple, known for the breakout 1973 hit "Smoke on the Water"," saw its lineup changed over the years. The group split in 1976 and Lord later performed with heavy metal band Whitesnake for several years. He reunited with Deep Purple's original members in 1984. The group went on to sell 150 million albums. Lord left the band in 2002 and concentrated on solo projects.

Lord also worked with other groups before he joined Deep Purple. According to the UK newspaper The Guardian, he played keyboard on The Kinks' debut 1964 hit, "You Really Got Me."

Lord had revealed his illness in August 2011 in a blog post, saying: "I would like all my friends, followers, fans and fellow travelers to know that I am fighting cancer and will therefore be taking a break from performing while getting the treatment and cure."

He said he would continue to write music, adding: "in my world it just has to be part of the therapy."

Lord had canceled a July 6 concert set to take place in Hagen, Germany to receive medical treatments. He was set to perform his Durham Concerto with the Hagen Philharmonic Orchestra.

His final work, "Jon's Concerto for Group and Orchestra," is set for release in September. The concerto is a re-recording of a performance Deep Purple had given in 1969 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The new version was performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Guest musicians include Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse, fellow rocker Joe Bonamassa and Bruce Dickinson, singer of Iron Maiden.

"Very sad to hear that Jon Lord has passed away," the group said in a Twitter message on Monday.

Other rockers also mourned Lord on Twitter, including legendary guitarist Joe Satriani, who performed on and off with Deep Purple, and former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who said on his Facebook page: "So sad to hear about the passing of Jon Lord...one of the pioneers of heavy keyboards and a real gentleman. Had the pleasure of touring with him & Deep Purple in 1998."

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