Dear Guitar Hero: Steve Morse
If you walked into a room with Jimi Hendrix, Les Paul, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jaco Pastorius, who would you talk to first, and what would you say? —Nick Kirby
It would be Jaco, because he was a friend of mine. I’d say, “What happened that night?” I was getting ready to do a show, and they said Jaco was there to see me. I said, “Well, bring him back.” They said, “He can’t come in. You’ll have to walk outside to talk to him.” It was a terrible time in his life. I gave him some money. Shortly thereafter, he got mugged, or attacked, and he died. We were old friends. So that’s the first thing I would want to know: “Whatever happened, and how did you get there? Are you doing okay now?”
I read that you’re also a pilot. Have you ever flown yourself to a gig and had something strange happen on the way? —Sonny Madsen
Yeah, decades ago. I was flying from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. We were in my light twin, and even though it did have de-icing boots, we had a problem because a big winter storm just sort of appeared. I was getting ready to do the approach, and I lost one of the vacuum pumps that maintains the gyroscope instruments—the things that tell you up from down. It was nightfall, and we were getting ice. We were running out of options, so I decided to do the approach and go in a little fast. It worked out fine, and it was a great learning experience. It was only when I thought about it afterward that I got nervous.
You play rock, country, jazz, fusion, classical and everything else. Did you ever want to become a studio player? —Richard Gazzo
Sure, I think every guitarist does when they read the credits on albums. Duane Allman was a studio guitar player, and he played on lots of different things before and during his time with the Allman Brothers. And, of course, his session with Clapton [Derek and the Dominos] sounded amazing. It seems like the coolest thing in the world. However, since I’ve become good friends with [Toto’s] Steve Lukather [who is an accomplished session player] and experienced a little bit of it myself, I’ve realized it’s a different world. Being a session guitarist is different than I would have ever imagined. From an employment standpoint, it sounds fantastic. But for somebody who is used to having control of his own musical direction, it can be frustrating.
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