Steve Morse played with Deep Purple for 28 years, having joined as guitarist in 1994
In March, he temporarily stepped down to care for his wife who had been diagnosed with stage four cancer.
However, at the time he said he was “not leaving the band” and had hoped to “join the tour”.
The guitarist has since confirmed in a statement that he will indeed be stepping down.
Here’s everything you need to know about Steve Morse and why he’s leaving Deep Purple.
Why is Steve Morse leaving Deep Purple?
The guitarist, who joined the band in 1994, announced he was leaving to care for his wife Janine, who has stage four cancer.
In a statement, he explained that he “simply cannot commit to long or distant tours because things can change quickly at home”.
The singer released a statement explaining his departure, you can read it in full here:
“Last fall I suddenly left the purple writing session in Germany because my wife was having a real medical crisis.
“Almost a year later, we are learning to accept aggressive stage 4 cancer and chemotherapy treatment for the rest of his life.
“We both miss the concerts, but I just couldn’t commit to long or far tours, because things can change quickly at home. I suggested hiring a replacement guitarist last fall, hoping we might see the miraculous cancer cure we’ve all heard about. Over time, I could see how things were going, after 28 years in the band.
“I already played my last gig with Purple in Florida on the Rock Legends cruise.
“I want to thank the listeners who so strongly supported the live music and turned every show from a dress rehearsal into a thunderous and thrilling experience.
“I will miss everyone in the group and the team, but being Janine’s helper and advocate has made a real difference at many key points. As Janine adjusts to her limitations she is able to do a lot on her own, so we will try to play shorter gig tours close by with friends to hopefully get us both out of the house!
“I know Simon has already nailed the gig, but I am now handing over the keys to the vault that holds the secret to how Ritchie’s Smoke On The Water intro was recorded. Guess you have to shake the key just because I never opened it.
Who are the members of Deep Purple?
Since Deep Purple released their debut album in 1968, the band has had eight different line-ups.
The band member who has been there since the very beginning is drummer Ian Paice.
Singer Ian Gillan is the second longest serving member, having joined in 1969 and sang for some of their most iconic hits including Smoke on the water, in the rock, ball of fire and Machine head.
Bassist Roger Glove originally joined the band in 1969, but left soon after to become head of artists and repertoire (A&R) at Purple Records and as a producer for bands like Status Quo.
Glover joined the band as bassist in 1984.
Keyboardist Don Airy joined the band in 2002 after replacing Jon Lorde, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.
Airy has an impressive resume, having played keyboards for bands such as: Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Whitesnake.
What did Deep Purple say?
In light of the news, the band shared a statement on Twitter.
Their caption read, “An important band announcement was made today. Please go to the official Deep Purple Facebook to read.
Each band member paid tribute to the guitarist.
The band’s singer Gillian said: “Steve has a legacy with Deep Purple that can never be forgotten, and that smile will be missed.”
Drummer Paice spoke of Morse’s talented abilities, saying, “From the moment Steve joined us in Purple, it was obvious that he could open up new musical possibilities for us. Like most great creative musicians, he has the ability to come up with musical ideas that no one else has thought of.
Keyboardist Airy thanked the guitarist for their time together.
He said, “Thank you Steve for being such a shining light both musically and personally to me over the last (20!!) years. All I can do is wish you and Janine the best for the future in the new course life has taken you.
“I know it would take a lot more than that to extinguish your talent and your music, so hopefully we’ll see you a little further.”
Who replaces Steve Morse?
Simon McBride will replace guitarist Steve Morse.
The Northern Irish rock singer has been performing with Deep Purple since April 2022.
In a statement with guitar world he said, “I’ve known the guys for a while. I shot with Ian [Gillan] and gift [Airey] a bit over the years. I also played with Roger [Glover] and [Ian] Paicey, so I played with all of them, but not at the same time!
“Now I can do it, and I’m really excited about it, going through all these classic iconic songs that we all learn when we’re young. Now I can play them as part of the band. Steve is an amazing guitar player , so I know I have big boots to fill…”