Tributes are pouring in after one of rock’s most iconic figures finally lost his battle against cancer.

Jon Lord passed away earlier today with his family at his bedside.

The Deep Purple keyboardist – responsible for the iconic anthem Smoke On The Water – was 71.

Joe Bonamassa led the tributes when he said: “I am extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Jon Lord today. One of the nicest and most talented people Ive ever met. Rest in Peace.” 

Tom Morello added: “RIP the great Jon Lord, Deep Purple’s cornerstone/keyboardist. So many great great songs and that incredible SOUND of his! Thankyou.” And a statement from iron Maiden read: “Very sad to hear that Jon Lord has passed away.”

Quireboys, Down N Outz and Def Leppard keyboardist Keith Weir said: “God bless Jon Lord. He was THE MAN and one of the reasons I do what I do!” And his band mate Guy Griffin revealed: “I got his autograph as a kid when they were rehearsing for perfect strangers.. Made me want to be in a band, he was a gent.”

Chris Jericho, of Fozzy, added: “RIP Jon Lord, one of the greatest keyboard players of all time! Burn, Highway Star, Perfect Strangers, Slow & Easy etc. – pure genius!” And former Journey and Yngwie Malmsteen frontman Jeff Scott Soto added: “RIP the master of the B3, Jon Lord, you influenced many with your contributions to music!”

Little Angels singer Toby Jepson joined the growing list of tributes when he said: “RIP Mr Lord…thanks for the roar and the beauty.” And fellow vocalist Tracii Guns added: “Wow I can’t believe Jon Lord passed away today. His style of playing the organ set the standard by which every rock band with organ lived by. A real legend and a real star. RIP Jon!”

Born in Leicester, Lord learned classical piano at an early age before looking to imitate Jerry Lee Lewis and jazz organist Jimmy Smith.

After meeting guitarist Ritchie Blackmore through another project, the first incarnation of Deep Purple was born.

Lord’s classical influence surfaced when he composed Concerto for Group and Orchestra, which the band performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969.

But the group refined their heavy rock sound and found mass success at the start of the 1970s with albums including Deep Purple in Rock and Machine Head.

In their classic years, the band also included Blackmore, singer Ian Gillan, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover.

Lord continued to compose classical works alongside the group’s output and, when they split in 1976, he joined other groups Whitesnake and Paice, Ashton and Lord.

Deep Purple reformed in 1984 and resumed at the height of their commercial prowess, playing to tens of thousands of fans around the world.

They sold a total of 150 million albums and Lord remained an ever-present amid numerous line-up changes until he left in 2002.