Deep Purple rocker Ian Gillan is convinced his late bandmate Jon Lord gave him the perfect ending to a song that had been troubling him on the day he died.

The pianist/keyboard player died from a pulmonary embolism last July (12) after a battle with pancreatic cancer, and Gillan admits he'll always have a special connection to the musician thanks to a moment of inspiration he had when he heard the tragic news.

Gillan tells Wenn, "When we were in Nashville recording our new album Now What?!, (bandmate) Ian Paice brought along the news of Jon's death and we had been expecting it, but nevertheless it was a terrible shock and we all went quiet for a little while and then a few little anecdotes started coming out and we started to reminisce about the good times with Jon and what he meant to us. It was wonderful.

"It was a bit like when my father died. His body just went and I was devastated but the next minute I was filled with his entire spirit and he's been travelling with me ever since... and Jon filled the room in just the same way.

"So I scribbled down some lines: 'Souls having touched are forever entwined', which I read at his funeral, and I also stuck them in as the last line in a song called Above & Beyond, which was finished apart from that one line and I knew it was about separation, whether it was lovers parting or someone going on a long journey, but I hadn't quite pinned it down.

"As soon as I stuck that line in, it was Jon Lord singing to the rest of us. It was bloody marvellous, amazing."

Gillan admits he's still coming to terms with the fact he'll never see Lord again: "He was always very close even after he left the band and retired. We'd meet up in Paris or Tokyo and have dinner and wonderful conversations. Every now and then he'd call us up backstage before a gig and wish us luck."