Jon Lord, the founder and influential keyboardist of Deep Purple has died. According to his website, the 71-year-old suffered a pulmonary embolism on Monday (July 16), after fighting a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by family at the London Clinic at the time of his death.

Lord founded Deep Purple in 1968, and remained with the band until their split in 1976. In 1984, the group reformed with Lord, going on to record six more studio albums before he retired from the group in 2002. Amongst his achievements are co-writing ‘Smoke on the Water‘ and writing the signature organ riff on ‘Child in Time.’

Lord also had a successful solo career and performed with groups like Whitesnake. He had been battling the cancer since last August, and had planned a comeback show for July 12 which he ultimately had to cancel do to poor health. Contact Music reports that Lord traveled to Israel in February to undergo specialist treatment.

“I would like all my friends, followers, fans and fellow travelers to know that I am fighting cancer and will therefore be taking a break from performing while getting the treatment and cure,” Digital Spy reports that Lord wrote in August.

“I shall of course be continuing to write music — in my world it just has to be part of the therapy — and I fully expect to be back in good shape next year.” Lord is survived by his wife Vickie and daughters Amy and Sara. “Jon passes from Darkness to Light,” his website reads.

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