Jon Lord, founding keyboardist for the legendary band Deep Purple, died Monday (July 16) in London.

According to his website, the British rocker suffered a pulmonary embolism after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71 years old.

Born in Leicester, England, on June 9, 1941, Lord co-founded Deep Purple in 1968 with Ian Paice (who still tours with the band), Rod Evans, Nick Simpler and Ritchie Blackmore and co-wrote many of the group's most famous songs, including "Smoke on the Water." The band is considered one of the most influential hard-rock bands in history, having heavily influenced the sounds of Metallica, Queen, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Alice in Chains.

Deep Purple largely dissolved in 1976, and Lord went on to pursue his interest in classical music — his classical compositions have played the esteemed Royal Albert Hall in London — but returned to rock just two years later as a member of Whitesnake. He worked with the band until 1984, when Deep Purple re-formed.

He retired from Deep Purple in 2002 but continued to make music as a solo act and composer.

Lord was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August of last year but continued working. Earlier this month, he was forced to cancel a performance of his "Durham Concerto" in Germany, telling fans the cancellation was "not a matter for concern, but it is a continuation of his regular treatment that has just taken longer than anticipated."

He was, according to his website, "surrounded by his loving family" when he died. He is survived by two daughters, Amy and Sara.

Copyright : MTV.com