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Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord dead at 71 (VIDEO)

Lord died Monday of a pulmonary embolism following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Jon lord 2012 07 16Enlarge
Deep Purple's Jon Lord and Australian band George rehearse at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphonic Orchestra in 2003. They performed for the Sydney Festival "Concerto for Group and Orchestra," an original composition by Lord. (Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

Deep Purple co-founder and keyboardist Jon Lord died of a pulmonary embolism Monday following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

Lord, who co-wrote "Smoke On The Water" and other hits by the pioneering rock band, had been undergoing cancer treatment since last August, BBC News reported.

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According to his website, he was "surrounded by his loving family" when he died at the London Clinic.

"Jon passes from Darkness to Light," the website read.

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Born in Leicester, England, Lord moved to London for drama school at age 19 and quickly began playing small shows in public houses and bars. He joined the blues band The Artwoods, then toured with the Flowerpot Men before becoming a founding member of Deep Purple in 1968, MSNBC reported.

Two years after the group split in 1976, Lord began a six-year stint in Whitesnake. He also appeared on albums with some of the biggest names in rock, including George Harrison and David Gilmour, according to Rolling Stone.

He joined up with Deep Purple again when the band reunited in 1984, and played with them until retirement in 2002.

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