Deep Purple’s Steve Morse on Replacing Ritchie Blackmore
Stepping into the role of new guitarist in an already established band is never easy. It might even bring some hesitation —especially when you’re replacing someone as killer as Ritchie Blackmore.
That’s exactly what happened to Steve Morse, when he joined Deep Purple following co-founding member Blackmore’s long reign on the six-string.
“Actually, I did have some trepidation,” Morse told Joe Bosso of MusicRadar.com. “They asked me to join the band, but I'd never even seen them play live…I didn't know what they'd be like, whether they were a band just living of their name and not into new ideas – all those things."
“So my manager, Frank Solomon, set it up [with] Deep Purple's manager that I would play four shows with the band. That way, it was an easy get-out-of-jail arrangement on both sides if we were unhappy.”
Of course, after his first jam session with Deep Purple, second thoughts dissipated and it was obvious this was win-win.
“I didn't know what to expect, but during my first rehearsal with the band, which was only a couple of hours before we were supposed to do a gig, I was blown away by how great they were,” he said. “I think we were all surprised at how good things sounded and how easy the chemistry was. Within an hour, we were laughing and slapping one another on the backs going, 'All right, this is gonna work!'”
Live onstage, Morse feels a certain obligation to play Blackmore’s songs to the book: “…There's the hooks and melodic parts that Ritchie did that everybody knows by heart. And they're great parts! I have to play those parts, and that's fine. The songs wouldn't be the songs without them. But there's a lot of leeway in and around those sections.”
Won’t get a chance to make it to one of those orchestral Deep Purple shows this year? No worries—the British metal band releases a DVD documentary Tuesday (June 28), chock full of live clips and backstage footage.
Watch Steve Morse Explain How to Play 'Smoke on the Water'