The rock legend infused all his music with classical influences and bestrode the genre divide.

British rock and classical musician Jon Lord has died at the age of 71. The composer of Smoke on the Water lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer when he suffered a pulmonary embolism on July 16 at the London Clinic.

Lord was the founder and keyboardist of Deep Purple, one of the most influential rock bands of the late 1960s and ’70s which has sold more than 100 million albums to date. Classical trained in piano from the age of five, Lord fused genres in the music of Deep Purple, declaring the band’s songs were “as valid as anything by Beethoven” in a 1973 interview with New Musical Express.

Throughout his life he wrote symphonic scores including the Concerto for Group and Orchestra, recorded at London’s Royal Albert in 1969. Later in life his style became more reflective, as on the 2010 album To Notice Such Thingswith the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a GramophoneEditor’s Choice. He retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

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