LONDON — British rocker Jon Lord, the keyboardist whose powerful, driving tones helped turn Deep Purple and Whitesnake into two of the most popular hard rock acts in a generation, died Monday. He was 71.

A statement on Lord’s official website said the Leicester, England-born musician died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Lord co-wrote some of Deep Purple’s most famous tunes, including “Smoke on the Water,” and later had a successful solo career following his retirement from the band in 2002.

Lord got his musical start playing piano, first taking classical music lessons before shifting to rock and roll.

After moving to London to attend drama school, he joined blues band the Artwoods in 1964 and later toured with The Flowerpot Men before joining Deep Purple in 1968.

The group went on to sell more than 100 million albums before splitting in 1976.