Today our Off the Road pandemic-based series welcomes one of the great names in classic rock, Deep Purple, and their iconic guitarist Steve Morse. The only American in the otherwise British band, he joined HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence for a wide-ranging, personal interview we’re sharing in two parts, concluding tomorrow.
Steve Morse has been among the most respected guitarists for decades, ever since bursting onto the scene in the 1970s with his pioneering fusion band, the Dixie Dregs, inspired by among his favorite guitarists, John McLaughlin, and his groundbreaking Mahavishnu Orchestra. Equally as a solo artist with his Steve Morse Band, his playing quickly earned him a broad fan-base and recognition from publications like Guitar Player magazine, where he was voted “Best Overall Guitarist” so many times he’s been made ineligible and instead placed in their “Gallery of Greats”. His skills also got him a spot intended to fill-in for Al Di Meola on a tour with John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia; when Al ended up being able to do the tour, Steve was invited to open, and then perform with the trio as part of the finale each evening. A prolific artist contributing to numerous projects, Steve would go on to be part of classic rockers Kansas, and eventually join Deep Purple in the early 1990s. Steve Morse is the longest running guitarist in the group, far eclipsing the number of years that original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore logged in Deep Purple. He’s also associated with side-projects Flying Colors and Living Loud.
For our Off the Road feature, we got a chance to spend over an hour speaking with Steve Morse. Steve explained the group-isolation writing process Deep Purple utilizes, and then took us inside the studio with legendary producer Bob Ezrin to learn about the production of the latest Deep Purple album, Whoosh, and hear some classic stories. The tour for Whoosh was heavily impacted by the virus, Steve explained, sharing how his personal journey through the pandemic has been one involving challenges and themes many have faced, from fear of infecting vulnerable family members, to losing loved ones during the lockdown. He also shared a few inspiring lessons he’s learned from touring the world with Deep Purple, through stories involving far-flung international destinations. It’s a remarkably candid, unvarnished conversation, in some ways unlike anything we've had so far in the series.
Tomorrow we’ll conclude the radio feature and post the complete hour+ interview.
Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises, including hours of conversation and many exclusive musical performances, speaking to artists across the musical spectrum, including Jack Johnson, Alice Cooper, Al Di Meola, Soul Asylum, John McLaughlin, 10,000 Maniacs, Carlos Santana, Randy Brecker and many others.
Hear the complete new Deep Purple album, Whoosh, and see several videos for it:
See a complete Deep Purple show, featuring Steve, and the band playing with an orchestra: