TRIBUTES have been paid to musician Jon Lord who founded Deep Purple and co-wrote their most famous song, Smoke On The Water, after he died aged 71.
The Leicester-born keyboard player, who had pancreatic cancer, died in London yesterday.
Friend and fellow keyboard player Rick Wakeman said: "I was first made aware of Jon with Shades Of Deep Purple in the mid 1960s and I was a great fan. We became great friends and wrote stuff for (regular fundraising event) Sunflower Jam. And we were going to write and record an album before he become ill.
"His contribution to music and to classic rock was immeasurable and I will miss him terribly."
Rocker Bryan Adams paid tribute online: "RIP Jon Lord - incredible organist for Deep Purple, one of my fave bands growing up."
Veteran DJ Bob Harris said Lord was "a gentleman" and Jamie Cullum said he was "a hero of the keys".
Actor Ewan McGregor tweeted: "Jon played with my great friend Tony Ashton. They'll be jamming upstairs now!"
A statement on Lord's website said he has passed "from Darkness to Light" and was "surrounded by his loving family" when he died.
Last year Lord told fans he was "fighting cancer" but would continue to make music as "part of the therapy".
He started playing the piano in his family home and took classical music lessons before turning to jazz and rock 'n' roll. He moved to London at 19 to go to drama school but was soon playing piano in pubs.
In 1964 he joined cult blues band The Artwoods - formed by Ronnie Wood's brother Art. The band were critical favourites but never translated that to commercial success and split up.
Lord then toured with manufactured psychedelic pop combo The Flowerpot Men who scored a hit with Let's Go To San Francisco.
He joined Deep Purple in 1968. The heavy rockers sold more than 100 million albums, many of them featuring Lord's classically inspired keyboards. Their most famous song was the simple Smoke On The Water with its trademark riff.
The band split in 1976 and Lord joined bandmate Ian Paice in Paice Ashton Lord and also played with Whitesnake and a reformed Deep Purple.