Whitesnake mainman David Coverdale has delivered a eulogy for former bandmate Jon Lord, who died last year, recalling three meetings with the keyboardist that changed the direction of the singer’s career.
Lord was responsible for bringing Coverdale into Deep Purple in 1973, then later spent six years as a member of Whitesnake. He passed away after a cancer battle in July, aged 71.
In a video clip the singer recounts how the musicians first met soon after Purple former their MkII lineup with singer Ian Gillan.
Coverdale says: “My first encounter with Jon was as an opening act Sheffield University. Jon came up to me after our show and discretely asked for my phone number, whispering: ‘In case it doesn’t work out with the new guy!’ I was living at home with my parents and we never had a phone, so I gave him my address.
“Of course, it worked out with the new guy, as we know – but it didn’t stop me rushing down to the front door every morning for months to see if he’d written to me. It was an indescribable boost for my morale at that time in my life.”
They next met when Coverdale was invited to audition for Puple MkIII in 1973. “I was pretty nervous, of course, but determined,” the singer says. “No one was more engaging, welcoming and calming to me than Jon. I must credit him with helping me relax and give a solid account of myself at the audition.”
Soon afterwards Lord came to rescue as Coverdale struggled to find his position within the band among Richie Blackmore, Glenn Hughes and Ian Paice, during writing session for what would become the Burn album.
“Jon was going to be late, so Richie, Glenn and Ian started jamming,” he remembers. “I wandered in and out, sipping cognac or Scotch, not knowing what the hell to do as this was all so new to me.
“I found out later than Jon had called Richie to see how I was fitting in. Richie said everything was fine – but I hadn’t sung anything yet. When Jon arrived, he and I had several snifters and walked down to the rehearsal room. With him at his Hammond and me at the microphone I sang non-stop for God knows how long. Beatles songs, jazz songs, blues riffs.
“Slowly but surely the guys all came in and started playing along – and suddenly I was a member of the best band in the world.”
Coverdale believes it’s simply a matter of time before Lord’s bandmates come together for a tribute show. He says: “I have no doubt that with the passage of time, something wonderful will take place somewhere where his former colleagues and I can come together, celebrate his life and his musical gifts, and share it with Jon’s multitude of fans.”
Describing Lord as “a sweet, sweet man who knew how to elevate your spirit,” the vocalist says: “Thank you with all my heart – I will never forget you and what you brought to me, and to countless other lives.”
-Classic Rock Magazine