15 years gone: Jon Lord’s final Purple show

Tonight sees the 15th anniversary of Jon Lord‘s final touring show with Deep Purple. At Ipswich‘s Regent Theatre on September 19, 2002, Deep Purple bid a classy farewell to their maestro, as he made good on his promise to himself to spend more time on his own music.

Jon would later guest with Purple on individual songs, but this was his final scheduled appearance.

In February 2002, Deep Purple’s winter UK tour came to a stop halfway through as more or less the entire band and crew caught a seemingly unbeatably bad case of the flu. This would have been Jon’s final tour, and as the remaining venues were postponed for September, it was agreed that Jon would appear at the second half of these concerts with his successor Don Airey handling the first half.

The transition moment between the two became a nightly highlight. Don Airey would finish his solo spot, the stage lights would dim briefly and come up again to reveal Jon at the Hammond majestically playing the intro to Perfect Strangers.

The show in Birmingham was filmed and released, but Ipswich became the real send-off. Your writer attended the show and penned an emotional review for The Highway Star, Deep Purple’s fan website. Here is an extract:

‘The end moves irreversibly closer as Jon mesmerises us with a spine tingling piano opening to When A Blind Man Cries. It includes familiar snatches of Pictured Within and the second movement of the Concerto, all appreciatively acknowledged by the crowd. This one-off feature is the show’s first defining moment and it brings home the importance of the night.’

At the end of the show, Jon was afforded full attention from his band mates and the audience:

‘After a six-man full line-up bow along the front of the stage, the rest of the guys gently usher Jon Lord forwards. Standing in a line, arms linked, they all point to him as he – visibly humbled and in distress – makes his way slowly along the edge of the stage, bowing, smiling, crying, shaking as many hands as possible and waving to those further back. At the same time, applause, acclaim, admiration, respect and a thousand desperately inadequate thank yous pour over him from the theatre.’

You can read the full review on The Highway Star.

Front row photos by Stathis Panagiotopoulos.


8 thoughts on “15 years gone: Jon Lord’s final Purple show

  1. На концерте в Бирменгеме 29 июня 2017 Ричи очень достойно, по-блэкморовски, выдал инструментал Carry on Jon, посвященный великому Джону Лорду. Комментарии излишни, тут прям пробирает до слёз…
    Carry On Jon

  2. One of my mentors, & heroes, since high school. Not only was he an incredible keyboardist, but only until about 8 years ago, did I know that he was an incredible classical composer. What a talent!

  3. I’m sorry you get this association from the collage of photos at the top of the story.
    I made this collage from Stathis’ great photos at the time in 2002 because I wanted to show how Jon bid farewell to his fans as he left the stage – with a salute and a bow. It was a lovely gesture.

  4. In early 1967, through his roommate Chris Curtis of the Searchers, Lord met businessman Tony Edwards who was looking to invest in the music business alongside partners Ron Hire and John Coletta (HEC Enterprises). Session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was called in and he met Lord for the first time, but Chris Curtis’s erratic behaviour led the trio nowhere. Edwards was impressed enough by Jon Lord to ask him to form a band after Curtis faded out. Simper was contacted, and Blackmore was recalled from Hamburg. Although top British player Bobbie Clarke was the first choice as drummer, during the auditions for a singer, Rod Evans of “The Maze” came in with his own drummer, Ian Paice. Blackmore, who had been impressed by Paice’s drumming when he met him in 1967, set up an audition for Paice as well. The band was called the “Roundabout” at first and began rehearsals at Deeves Hall in Hertfordshire. By March 1968, this became the “Mark 1″ line-up of ” Deep Purple “: Lord, Simper, Blackmore, Paice, and Evans. Lord also helped form the band “Boz” with some of its recordings being produced by Derek Lawrence. “Boz” included Boz Burrell (later of King Crimson and Bad Company ), Blackmore (guitarist), Paice (drummer), Chas Hodges (bass guitarist).

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