Dear Guitar Hero: Steve Morse
He’s a stylistic master of the guitar who has been a member of classic rock acts that include Kansas and Deep Purple. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is…
If you could put together the ultimate five-piece rock supergroup, who would be in the band? You can choose from musicians living or dead. —Phil Murray
Oh, boy, this is very difficult. On drums, I’d say John Bonham. Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart made such a great team, so I’d put them on guitar and vocals. On bass, I think Jack Bruce could be great, plus he has a great singing voice. And [keyboardist] Chuck Leavell from the Allman Brothers.
When you first started playing with Deep Purple as the replacement for Ritchie Blackmore, did the fans give you a hard time? —Rita MacDowell
Yes, but I knew what to expect. I knew that even if people were giving me the benefit of the doubt, they would still be disappointed to not see the five original guys who did “Smoke on the Water.” But that doesn’t mean they should throw bottles! One of them hit [keyboardist] Jon Lord, who was right behind me. When you have lights in your face, you only see something the moment before it gets to you. I ducked at the last second, and the bottle hit Jon. That sucked really bad. This was during our very first tour. But we didn’t have any more of that after we got the first album out [1996’s Purpendicular].
You haven’t recorded an album with Deep Purple since Rapture of the Deep in 2005. Do you guys have any plans to do a new album? —Larry Elliott
Yes, we’ve been kickin’ that around. We keep looking for that big open hole in the schedule, but management keeps plugging it up with tours. That’s the moneymaking part of the business. Making albums is pretty much a charity event; you still need to do the business that pays the bills. Records are interesting for the band to make and for the fans to hear, but nowadays it has almost nothing to do with making a living.
What was it like playing with Kansas back in the Eighties? Did you have to play differently than with the Dixie Dregs [Morse’s longrunning jazz fusion band]? —Ned Tobolowsky
Yeah, I did but certainly not too differently. I immediately identified with [Kansas guitarist] Kerry Livgren’s writing. I thought, Hey, this guy is coming from the same direction that I am. I became friends with the band, and that’s really how I ended up working with them. It was a struggle to figure out what parts I should play. At the time that I joined, we didn’t have an extra violinist, and Kerry used to switch between playing keyboards and guitar. Plus, we had Rich Williams, the great guitar player who’s always been in the band. So I was kind of struggling. It was like, What should I play here? Do I take the solo? Sometimes I would play violin lines on the guitar, and sometimes I was playing things like a keyboard arpeggio, or something that Kerry wouldn’t have done on guitar.