Deep Purple electric guitar player Steve Morse has announced he will be taking a temporary break from the band this year to support his ill wife, who is currently battling cancer.
It's also been confirmed that Morse will be replaced by blues-rock guitar player Simon McBride, who has been drafted into the lineup for Deep Purple’s upcoming shows this May, June and July.
In a statement posted to social media, Morse said he is “not leaving the band” and will instead spend the next few months with his wife, Janine, in the hope that she soon “gets a clean bill of health”.
“At this point,” Morse said, “there are so many possible complications and unknowns, that whatever time we have left in our lives, I simply must be there with her. I am not leaving the band – I hope that after she gets a clean bill of health, I can re-join the tour.”
He continued, “However, I am not seeing any likely situation which would allow me to do overseas touring in the immediate future. I continue to be privileged to be a part of the Purple family tree, and also to get to feel the amazing support of so many loyal fans and the rest of the band.
“There's a certified world class guitarist ready to take over for the live shows whom everybody will surely be happy to hear.”
The certified world-class guitarist he speaks of is Simon McBride, a Northern Irish blues-rock maestro who has previously toured with both Deep Purple lead singer Ian Gillan and keyboardist Don Airey. McBride, who is set to release his upcoming album The Fighter on May 27, will accompany the band for their Middle Eastern and European shows this summer.
The tour will start on May 22 in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is currently scheduled to conclude on July 30 in Alesund, Norway. Between those dates, Deep Purple and McBride will play shows in Germany, France, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and more.
“I'm deeply honored to be asked to stand-in for Steve and play for such an iconic rock band like Deep Purple,” said McBride. “They are amazing musicians and amazing people. I'm very excited to get out and play all those iconic songs and rock the stage with such legends. My thoughts are with Steve and Janine and their family.”
In their own statement, Morse’s bandmates said, “All of our thoughts are with Janine during her fight against cancer and also with Steve while he supports his wife at a very difficult time. We hope that Steve will be able to join us back on the road later this year.”
After completing the first leg of the tour, Deep Purple will hit the road once again and return to a number of European countries in October.
For a full list of tour dates, visit Deep Purple’s website.
Earlier this year, McBride teased his upcoming album The Fighter by releasing the effort's first single, High Stakes, which you can hear below.