Steve Morse Talks About Handling Hate From Deep Purple and Kansas Fans
via Rick Beato / Youtube
In a recent interview, guitar maestro Steve Morse reflected on his time with heavy metal pioneers Deep Purple and the lackluster response he received from fans who were initially against him replacing Ritchie Blackmore.
Although he is not a current member, Morse was integral to the band’s development for almost thirty years, from 1994 to 2022. He joined the legendary rock ensemble after fellow guitar great Joe Satriani’s brief stint and after Blackmore’s departure.
In his discussion with well-known YouTube music personality Rick Beato, Morse talked about how fans who were dissatisfied that Blackmore wasn’t performing on stage treated him dismissively.
Morse explained, “The people that hate me for being born, they would go to the shows just because I’m not the original guy. They want to see that guy on the albums. They’re waiting to get the albums signed, and I’m not the original guy.”
Convincing the naysayers through his performance
As a matter of fact, as Morse notes, he put his “heart and soul” into his stage acts, but some people weren’t satisfied in spite of his sincere enthusiasm.
“Those people will begrudgingly say, ‘Okay yeah, it was kind of neat,’ if they see me giving my heart and soul and loving the music and enjoying it,” he continued.
Morse, as he recalled, made a determined attempt to win over Deep Purple fans, especially those who were originally skeptical because he wasn’t Ritchie Blackmore. Since he knew that not everyone would find it acceptable to love the music as much live as he did, he approached playing Blackmore’s parts with caution.
“I know it’s not cool to a lot of people to be enjoying the music as much as I do on stage, but I think it comes across most of them. It softens them up,” Morse added.
“I think that’s the sweet spot, showing that you care”
“Especially when I do a little bit of, ‘This is a little bit of how Ritchie played the solo. No, I’m not Ritchie I can’t do it like him but I’m gonna improvise my own thing.’ I think that’s the sweet spot, showing that you care, you give the nod to them and you also can’t help but be yourself,” the guitarist went on.
After a brief stint with Deep Purple for The Battle Rages On tour, Satriani was replaced by Morse in 1994. Even though he wasn’t a founding member, Morse ended up being the guitarist for the group for the longest, playing for a remarkable 28 years before leaving.
In July 2022, Steve’s departure was formally announced. Northern Irish guitarist Simon McBride took over for Morse temporarily starting in March of that year. Nevertheless, Morse chose to formally depart from Deep Purple in order to be nearer to his cancer-stricken wife, Janine.
There have been five different guitar players in Deep Purple’s lineup to date: Steve Morse, Simon McBride, Joe Satriani, Tommy Bolin, and co-founder Ritchie Blackmore.
One of the greatest guitarists in rock
As one of the hardest-working guitarists around, Steve Morse is well known for his incredibly versatile songwriting abilities. His talent was highlighted when Guitar Player magazine named him “Best Overall Guitarist” for five years in a row. This achievement earned him a position in the magazine’s “Guitar Player Hall of Fame,” an exclusive club that only Yes’ Steve Howe and instrumental virtuoso Eric Johnson occupy.
His influence extends far and wide, with acclaimed guitarist John Petrucci frequently citing Morse as a significant source of inspiration. Shawn Lane, another respected guitarist, hailed Steve Morse as one of the most talented guitarists of his era. Even Ritchie Blackmore himself has expressed admiration.
Morse’s ability to maneuver through extremely complex chord structures in classical sequences and skillfully perform quick, alternate-picked arpeggios are examples of his musical talent. His particular approach frequently uses harmonics, a technique he expertly improvises inside songs when performing live.
A prime example of Morse’s abilities is heard in Deep Purple’s song “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”, where his skillful use of harmonics adds to the band’s exciting live performances.