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Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has posted a lengthy tribute letter online to late Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, who passed away on Monday (July 16th) at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer. Ulrich has long acknowledged Purple as the most influential band in his life. Writing at Metallica's website, Ulrich said, "Ever since my father took me to see them in 1973 in Copenhagen, at the impressionable age of 9, Deep Purple has been the most constant, continuous and inspiring musical presence in my life. They have meant more to me than any other band in existence, and have had an enormous part in shaping who I am. So obviously I'm beyond bummed, saddened and devastated by today's news of the untimely passing of keyboardist Jon Lord."

He added, "There simply was no musician like Jon Lord in the history of hard rock. Nobody. Period. There was nobody that played like him. There was nobody that sounded like him. There was nobody that wrote like him. There was nobody that looked like him. There was nobody more articulate, gentlemanly, warm, or f***ing cooler that ever played keyboards or got anywhere near a keyboard."

Ulrich then recounts a 1992 show in Munich where Lord and Purple vocalist Ian Gillan came to the show and watched it from the "snake pit" section in the band's stage. Ulrich recalled, "I was in heaven. Performing in front of members of the band that had meant more to me than anything in my life was a dream come true."

Ulrich concludes by saying, "Full circle for the impressionable 9 year old from KB Hallen in Copenhagen in February '73. Rest in peace Jon and THANK YOU for everything."

Musicians from across the rock spectrum have paid tribute to Lord since his death, including Slash, Tom Morello, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler and the members of Purple itself.

Lord, who was known for his keyboard virtuosity and his reinvention of the Hammond B-3 organ sound, co-wrote such Purple classics as "Smoke On The Water" and "Child In Time," among others. Lord and drummer Ian Paice were the only original members to last through the band's initial run from 1968 to 1976. He was on board for their 1984 reunion and stayed on through to his 2002 retirement from the band, after which he's worked primarily in the classical field.

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