Steve Morse Departs Deep Purple Due to Wife’s Health

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Deep Purple announced today (July 23, 2022) that Steve Morse has departed the group while his wife, Janine, battles cancer. In a statement released by the band, the guitarist said, “I simply must be there with her.” He’s been a member of the classic rock band since 1994, performing on their last eight studio albums and several live releases.

Last March, Morse openly shared his wife’s health news with the bands’ fans.

In the new post, Morse wrote, “Last Autumn, 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 stage 4 aggressive cancer and chemo treatment for the rest of her life. We both miss being at shows, but I simply couldn’t commit to long, or far away tours, since things can change quickly at home. I suggested lining up a substitute guitarist last Autumn, hoping we could see the miraculous cancer cure all of us have heard about. As time went by, I could see the way things were heading though, after 28 years of being in the band.

“I’ve already played my last show with Purple back in Florida on the Rock Legends Cruise. I’ll miss everybody in the band and crew 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 many things on her own, so we will try to play some shorter nearby concert tours with friends to, hopefully, get both of us out of the house!”

Morse, who turns 68 on July 28, closed with a lighthearted sentiment. “I know Simon has the gig nailed already, but I’m now handing over the keys to the vault which holds the secret of how Ritchie’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ intro was recorded. I guess you have to jiggle the key just right because I never got it open.”

Watch Morse perform the classic with the band in 1999

Ian Gillan wrote: “[Steve] came from a different background to the rest of us in Deep Purple and yet his musical genius has been somehow compatible and played a big part in the fresh direction adopted by the group when he joined and made his first album with us in 1996, and then onwards, for over a quarter of a century, enjoying the longest incumbency of any DP guitarist and contributing to the longest unchanging line-up, which started when Don Airey replaced Jon Lord – who retired in 2002 – until the present day.

“I got to know him as a very kind man, full of ideas and the patience to see them developed. He would say, ‘You never know until you try it.’ We sure had some fun debating that approach, but mostly in good humour and he always gave as good as he got.

Steve has a legacy with Deep Purple that can never be forgotten, and that smile will be missed. We all admire his devotion; he’s been a strong family man all his life.

“As we get older, we realise that we’re much closer to the end, and that triggers an urgency that won’t be tamed. The best way I can describe this is by using Steve’s own words; when I sent him a love letter a few weeks ago, he replied that it was weird being at home whilst we guys were out there, but ‘reality intervenes’… and that’s what has happened.

“I can only put out love and respect, and positive vibes at the memories of good times together.”

From Ian Paice: “From the moment Steve joined us in Purple, it was obvious 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.

“I think the easiest way to say it is he’s always “thinking outside the box”. Not many of us can do that! We learnt he is also an incredibly nice man… [and] there is one important truth here and that is ‘family comes first.’ Steve is adhering to that truth with his wife Janine’s health situation. We will miss him.”

Roger Glover added: “In the early 80’s, on tour with Rainbow in Germany, I heard ‘Go For Baroque’ by the Dixie Dregs on a car radio. I was captivated and immediately bought Unsung Heroes. Then I bought Steve’s first solo album. What a guitar player. Never could I have dreamed that twelve years later we would be in a band together.

“Deep Purple was at a pivotal point in the mid-90’s and needed to refresh itself. Steve was an inspired choice and brought his talent and limitless imagination to us, enabling the band to start an amazing journey for the next twenty-eight years… no mean feat. He’s a teacher, he inspired us, me in particular, with his energy, encouragement and wisdom, and his contribution and legacy in this band is beyond words. He will be missed but our friendship will remain.”

From Don Airey: “Thanks Steve for being such a shining light both musically and personally to me over the last few (20!!) years. All I can do is wish you and Janine the best for the future, in the new course that life has taken you. I know it would take a lot more than this to extinguish your talent and your music, so hopefully we’ll see you down the road a-piece.”

Related: Our Album Rewind of the band’s classic Made in Japan

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. 122intheshade
    #1 122intheshade 24 July, 2022, 00:12

    “What If” is one of the great guitar albums of all time. Still have mine. “Take It Off The Top” clears the haze every time. Better than ear drops, too.

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 24 July, 2022, 11:31

    There’s not really enough that can be said about Steve Morse’s musical genius. But I think this is about much more important matters than that. Janine and Steve, so many good thoughts and more are with you. May you continue to have the courage and love that sustains you through what life has in store for the both of you in these difficult and frightening times.

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