The longtime guitarist of Deep Purple, Steve Morse, has announced that he has officially quit the band to care for his wife Janine, who is battling an aggressive form of cancer.
Morse confirmed back in March that he was temporarily stepping away from the live circuit, explaining in a statement: “At this point, there are so many possible complications and unknowns, that whatever time we have left in our lives, I simply must be there with her”.
At the time, he maintained that he was “not leaving the band”, telling fans that he hoped to “re-join the tour” at some point. He was then replaced by Simon McBride in the band‘s live set-up.
However, today (July 23rd), Morse has said in a statement that he will not be returning to the fold: “I’ve already played my last show with Purple back in Florida on the Rock Legends Cruise [in February]”.
“I wish to thank the listeners who so strongly supported live music and turned every show from a dress rehearsal to a thundering, exciting experience. 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”, he expressed. “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!”
The guitarist concluded: “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.”
Frontman of Deep Purple, Ian Gillan, shared his own statement: “Steve has a legacy with Deep Purple that can never be forgotten, and that smile will be missed.”
He continued: “It would be wrong to comment on his personal circumstances, suffice to say he’s in a bad place right now but dealing with it bravely and as best he can; we all admire his devotion; he’s been a strong family man all his life.”
Morse joined Deep Purple in 1994. He’s written and recorded eight studio albums with them, including their 21st, last year’s Turning To Crime.
“Steve will be greatly missed by [the] band, crew, management, record label and all those that had the pleasure of working with him over the years”, the British rockers wrote in a joint statement. “Steve has always been hugely grateful for the support and love of Deep Purple fans across the globe.”