After the full 90 minutes, the interview wound to a close.
We exchanged pleasantries and we wished each other luck. God bless, he said. God bless you, I said.
All of that is in the piece. It took a while to knock it into shape. Scott Rowley, the Editor-In-Chief of Classic Rock, wanted 2,000 words. I spoke to him a few days later. I think I need a bit more, I said. It’s a common refrain from freelance writers. We all want just a bit more. We talked about it. Go on, he said. Make it 3,000.
I sent it over yesterday morning. It was fine. It was all there, at any rate. I’d like to pretend that this satisfactory state of affairs was all down to my brilliant journalism. But I’d be lying. It was down to him. Jon Lord was the Peter Ustinov of rock music.
I waited for the editor to call back. The dreaded call back. What about this, and can you get a bit more here, and what about this line. No writer wants to hear that.
There was no call.
Scott called me at six o’clock as I was driving home from work. He’d gone through the piece. He liked it. There was a ‘but’, though: “You haven’t heard have you?” Jon Lord was dead.
He was so full of life. He was so full of spirit and vigour and positivity, such endearing positivity. He even made me feel positive, and I’m the most miserable bastard you could ever wish to meet.
It was his last interview. When I spoke to Scott earlier, he wasn’t sure if they could run it as it was written. I understand that. But I hope they do. I hope they run the whole lot. “If you take one thing from this piece,” Jon said, “be positive.” There’s a lesson there for all of us.
He was one of the good guys, Jon Lord. There aren’t many of those left.
“I’m just a lad from Leicester whose parents had the foresight to pack him off to piano lessons,” he said to me once.
Oh man, you were so much more than that. To millions of us. All over the world.