Jon Lord is probably the most famous Hammond player in rock courtesy of Space Truckin and Deep Purple. He was in Sydney earlier this year; here's an interview done with the Australian Newspaper
Jon Lord was the man who gave the Hammond organ its rock chops - not least during the memorable opening riff of the Deep Purple classic Smoke on the Water.
Former Deep Purple musician Jon Lord in Adelaide yesterday to play with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Picture: Brett Hartwig
Lord was a founding member of the pioneering hard rock band, and he created a new sound when he plugged his Hammond into a stack of Marshall amps.
"I suppose I felt I had to compete with the guitarists," he said in Adelaide yesterday.
"What I discovered was that the Hammond organ, when treated like that, makes a heck of a noise."
Lord will "unleash the beast" again when he gives three performances of his Concerto for Rock Group and Orchestra with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra this week.
It is now commonplace for symphony orchestras to share the stage with rock musicians, but Lord and Deep Purple were at the vanguard of hybrid contemporary music in the late 1960s. His concerto was first performed in 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
"People now don't realise how shocking it was to mix rock and classical music," he said.
"It's difficult to imagine now what it was like for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to be confronted with five hairy youths, one of whom claimed he'd written something they could play. And likewise for us, to be confronted with this very established, quite stuffy group of gentlemen."
Lord said it upset both rock and classical purists, but they missed the point. "The piece was written with a sense of love and to enjoy the experience of playing with an orchestra as much as to enjoy the experience of playing with a rock band.
"It was written by a guy who was, and still is, massively in love with both ends of the musical spectrum."
Lord, 66, began studying piano at age six. He has performed the concerto, mainly in Europe, a dozen times since he retired from Deep Purple in 2002.
His most recent composition was The Durham Concerto, commissioned to mark the 175th anniversary of Durham University in northeast England.
Lord yesterday looked back to the days when the music business was less commercially driven.
"People of my generation think now we had the best of it when there were no rules, when record companies were entrepreneurial, part of the emotional process of a band."
Contemporary music had good and bad points, he said. "Some of it touches me because it has its roots in the same thing that turned my head around in my teens. Other times I think, 'Why?' But that's just my age. I'm allowed to be a grumpy old man occasionally."